Tactile defensiveness in adults

by Jo
(USA)

For years I have had an extreme sensitivity to certain carpets, upholstered furniture, and certain cloth material. I become, for lack of a better description, grossed out or repulsed when my bare or stockinged feet or sometimes hands come into contact with someone's carpet or upholstery.


It is not every type of material. Berber carpet or flat carpet does not seem to bother me as much. If we are at someone's house, I am very picky about which chair I will sit on, preferring leather or a smooth fabric. The thing that makes this so weird is that if my hands or feet are sweaty it doesn't bother me nearly as much.

In the summer, I don't have nearly the problems I do in the winter. For example, at Christmas, I had to leave my shoes on at a family member's house because I couldn't bear the thought of my socks touching their carpet. We have a chair in our living room that I will only sit on if my feet and hands are sweaty. The good thing is that I often have sweaty hands and feet. But, never it seems, when I want them to be.

Is this totally crazy? I don't ever tell anyone about this because it is seems so strange. Does anyone know what I am talking about?

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Nov 28, 2016
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So glad I'm not alone
by: Anonymous

Oh my gosh. I am so glad to read these comments. I can't stand the feeling of clothes I have to have the loose and the worst is a bra as it is tight and binding. I can't stand the feeling of carpet on my bare feet have to have socks on, tried those hospital socks with the anti grip on them but the feeling of the rubber on them drives me nuts. Also I am going absolutely nuts over loose hair getting in my shirt and bra and touching my skin. And the absolute worst is I can't stand to touch cardboard and takeout drink holders they give you at fast food drive thru. It is just getting worse. What can be done.

Nov 16, 2016
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Towels, socks, and finger-nails
by: Anonymous

I can't touch certain towels and socks. If I do, I have to wet my hand, and I usually stick it into my mouth. The same goes for certain socks. The worst thing, is when my finger-nails rub against some fabrics especially, you guessed it, when it touches towels and socks. It feels like, ugg, I can't explain it. It's just death. Today, actually somthing else is killing me. The feeling of my socks against the inside of my shoes. So, yeah, those are my sensory "triggers".

Nov 14, 2016
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Paper
by: Anonymous

I think this is the reason I can't touch paper with the palm of my right hand. When I was in middle school other kids would sneak up to me and make me touch it to see what would happen and I just feel so repulsed by paper that I would cry or scream when it happened. This paper thing has been happening for as long as I could remember and I want to fix it.

Sep 27, 2016
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Feet touch
by: Anonymous

I think this maybe a little crazy,but I cant stand for my feet to touch each other while I'm sleeping, it started when I was a teen,then for years later it wasn't so bad as it is now as an adult, I put pillows to separate them but it doesn't work, wearing socks help a little but I'm still tossing and turning at night trying to avoid them touching.I even tried to diagnose myself as having restless leg syndrome, but I am not feeling pain or sensations,it's something psychological and keeping me up

Aug 24, 2016
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wow
by: copper

I can't stand certain things, like the feel of a soft-bristled brush on my scalp or teeth, and I often (like right now in fact) have this sensation on my hands and the skin around my mouth like they're blanketed in fine dust and the skin's tight. I can't even touch my dreadlocks because the roughness of them makes me feel irritated and grossed out. Sometimes it makes me feel so angry that I choke and want to cry, actually.

I end up washing my hands constantly trying to get rid of that sensation, which often does not work.

Funny, I thought I was the only person I know, outside of autistic persons like my best friend, who had issues like this.


Aug 20, 2016
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I forgot to add
by: Cindy C

I also have some sensory sensitivity just as far as people touching certain parts on my body....face, neck, etc i derive a ton of panic and anxiety from just a simple thing like that, or sudden noises, alarms, loud phones, dogs. Even my own child crying causes excessive anxiety or even more subtle but repetitive noises, like neighbors stereos or loud car stereos. Its horrible. Wish i had better ways to deal with it.

Aug 20, 2016
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I love that i found this site.
by: Cindy C

I can relate to some of the other people here! I feel like i have a bit of a.d.d, ocd and ptsd, as well as anxiety and social disorder, just for some background. Im also 39.

Anyways, i wash my hands alot and go through alot of lotion on my hands, and feet now too. Ive gotten into the habit of rinsing my feet in the tub a few times a day,at least.

I mean, i have a small child, so i need things to be or feel clean, but theres more to it than that.

I can relate to the previous poster saying they had to wash things after others touch you. Im curious with them, is that something you do eith everyone or just certain people?

Jun 29, 2016
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My obsessions with washing hands and feet
by: Anonymous

Am 39. Been a bit weird is what i felt all life. Never seen others this way so i find myself weird. I cant tolerate my hands n feet dirty. Nevertheless something or the other keeps sticking on to my feet n i have to wash my feet again n again. Am glad i dont have carpets around here. Can't tolerate them. I hate to touch socks. Seams of socks aaaahhhrrr.. as a kid found it very irritating at the very touch of petticoat seams.

I have to put my clothes for wash even i i have worn it just once. If someone touches me. I wash my hands or the touched part.. if its touched my bag. I put my bag for wash. Its hopeless living like this doing a lot of washing all day..
like am obsessed with water..

Can't even imagine i used to have 2 dogs n one of them used to cuddle in my rug.. oh yes he had a wash his feet n nose routine after his walks..he was a clean doggie.. i keep wonderig that i am wasting too much of water. Can i ever get over this.. many a times i feel if i go and walk over sand or mud i might get healed.. have tried it vouple of times. N guess i did feel better. The slimy feel underneath my feet did stop.. maybe got to do it too often..but not to forget i do want my legs throughly once home..

Is something wrong with me. What could be a possible solution to what am facing. Bcos i live with people who have complefely messy behaviours n cant even fight witht them.. want a solution..

Nov 18, 2015
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I have found my people!
by: Laura

I walk dogs for a living and I often get sweaty going in and out of houses especially when it is the heating season. I googled people who hate feeling wet, and I found this page. I absolugely despise feeling wet clothes. Tags on shirts, tight clothing, anything scratchy drives me insane! Of course if I am feeling any of these (and several hundred more), I totally fixate and obsess on it as if nothing else in the world matters until I can fix or remove it. I'm so glad I'm not alone. Anyone else suffer from migraines? I think it's somehow related.

Sep 23, 2015
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This is me
by: Abby

I cannot stand to touch carpet, I have to wear socks at all times and I cant stand the feel of bed sheets or Vera Bradley products. Anything with that type of material makes me cringe. I can't touch these things with any part of my body, especially my feet and hands. It's awful and I've been like this since I can remember and I'm only 17.

Jun 13, 2015
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sensitive skin
by: Marcia Richardson

I thought I was weird when I realize that carpets and certain kind of fabric bothers my feet. If I am watching tv and put my feet on the rug when I go to bed at night I have to put my feet up on a pillow because they hurt so much I can't let anything touches my feet. I have a set of couches made from fabric if I sit on them I have to spread a sheet before sitting down on them. I have to be very specific with the kind of clothes I wear, I can't sleep on any linen that is less than 600 thread, I can't use certain towels I really thought I was lone

Jun 03, 2015
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who knew?
by: Sparklenshineee

Wow. I'm 23 and this is all making sense. I remember as a kid having to buy special socks because the seam by the toe would drive me crazy. I can't sleep in my sheets because they get wrinkled and awkward and the feeling is awful. I just can't do it. I have to get certain types of pillow cases because they need to be silky feeling against my face. The more I think about it, the more things I find that fit in with this. I hadn't had a problem with the socks in year, but this morning I had a fit. It's 60 degrees outside and I'm wearing flip flops because after trying 4 pairs of socks, I just couldn't do it.

May 17, 2015
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Does anyone else feel
by: Anonymous

Like your shirt collar or necklesses make you feel like your being choked or that you can not stand wearing socks and shoes even when feet get cold I feel trapped I hate when my feet get wrapped in blanket like if I can't get my feet out I start worrying am I crazy the only shoes I wear are flipflops or crocs and I hate when my feet get dirty.

Apr 14, 2015
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Me too!
by: Anonymous

I have always had problems with fabrics, seams, carpets, and sounds. The sound that a washcloth makes when wiping a vinyl table cloth, the crinkling of candy wrappers, food noises and breathing noises of others. I feel so bad saying, "Do you have to make that noise when you breath?" It seems so petty but it drives me crazy. Lately I've been having sensitivity on my feet when walking on carpet and I have increased sensitivity on my finger tips. It seems to be getting worse, I thought maybe a medication might be causing it.

Mar 02, 2015
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This is pretty much describing me
by: Anonymous

I cannot stand the feeling of notebook paper on my hands, other paper such as construction paper isn't as bad because it doesn't feel as dry. I've always hated my feet and hands to feel chalky or dry and as a kid I had to use the chalk with the plastic holder if I were to use chalk, I even once hit my cousin for rubbing chalk powder on me when she knew how much it freaked me out. I also cannot Stand my toes touching the fronts of my shoes or touching anything really, and clipping my toe nails hurts and freaks me out beyond belief.

I always have to wear long sleeves when writing on paper to ensure that my hands won't touch it which gets quite hot and hard to breathe, loud noises and scraping noises get to me really badly. I absolutely loathe the existence of mechanical pencils and chalk boards and food textures and smells absolutely drive me nuts.

Nov 18, 2014
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always had issues
by: Anonymous

I'm a teacher of autistic children and every time I think about sensory difficulties they may face I just think of me!

I have so many tactile issues and always have! I started to put them all together but everyone just said I was only thinking because of my job.
I can't wear tight fitting clothes - huge phobia of tights\leggings, cant wear long sleeves, skinny jeans etc. Cant cut\file finger nails never have been able too. Feel really hot and claustrophobia in certain clothes, bedding etc. Cant regulate temperature. I actually physically feel these things hurt me.

Food textures are a problem. Hate splashing water. Can't be touched\kissed around my neck. I feel this is all tactile issues??? Could I be right?

Aug 02, 2014
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hate going barefoot in sandals
by: Anonymous

I'm so glad to read some of these posts. I've always hated bare feet in sandals, in people's homes, and my own home due to 2 cats and bits of litter that gets tracked, grosses me out! If I must wear sandals (socks and shoes look so stupid with a skirt), first thing I do when getting home is wash feet, dry, and cream and socks.
I hate summer as I won't wear shorts, I hate sitting on certain fabrics, even in waiting rooms I will put magazines on the armrests so my skin won't touch it; a hard chair is fine, vinyl is fine, but woven fabric, looks dirty, itchy! I'd rather stand. If my cats paws touch my skin in wearing shorts in the house, I have to wash and wear long pants and hate it! I have a leather sofa only so I can wipe it clean (cats) BUT, realized I can't sit on it, seams...gross me out, even if I clean it, the texture of a seam and in clothes drives me nuts, just looking at the sofa in shorts creeps me out, so I cover it with a blanket to sit on. I put lotion on hands and feet all the time. NOT OCD, just hate the dry feeling and did this when young. I had my dad carry me out of the water and right on my towel, cream on feet. It limits where I go, what I do. I call it my 'ick' factor and it's getting worse.

Sep 30, 2012
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I'm always HOT
by: Ponch

I'm 62 and my issues are getting worse. I'm always HOT. I hate tags on clothing, hate getting my hands dirty and after washing them, have to put hand lotion on. Can't wear tight clothing. Disorder drives me nuts, although I am messy. My father hated new clothes. I have 3 nephews with this issue also and read that it is often inherited. It is getting worse and my doctor doesn't know of a cure or anything to lessen the severity of it, especially the heat issue. I took the test online and was about an 8 out of 10. Anyone done anything that works?

Aug 14, 2012
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screamin willies!
by: Anonymous

I have noticed that as I am getting older, my skin is getting more and more sensitive. It always feels like bugs are crawling on me, I can't tolerate being touched half the time, and even my husband touching me drives me up the wall. I have a more heightened sensitivity to noise, and cringe when alarms go off. I literally feel like I am coming unhinged. As far as materials are concerned, the softer, the better, food isn't an issue, but animal fur, and my own hair will irritate me. Don't even try to give me a massage, the feeling is unbearable. Even right now my skin is going nuts, and with the air blowing, it is not helping matters.

Jul 21, 2012
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Does my girlfriend suffer from Tactile Defensiveness
by: S.R.

This sounds similar to what my girlfriend experiences on a daily basis. First she can not stand the feel of certain fabrics, she can not use certain types of bedding. She can not stand socks and hates when her socks rub against other fabrics. She has completely stopped wearing jeans and anything with a collar because she says she feels “trapped.” She has to use lotion on her hands constantly because they always feel dry and she can not touch anything at all when they feel this way. She will wake up in the middle of the night to apply more lotion. She also hates when things are disorganized. The blankets can not be touching her feet when she sleeps but she must wrap the rest of her body like a cocoon. When she does find something that she likes the feel of she must rub it constantly, she has a pillow that has been around for twenty some years that she has literally rubbed holes in. I was wondering if she could be suffering for tactile defensiveness and what we could do to help ease the symptoms.

Mar 17, 2012
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wow!
by: Pinkgina74

I have not been diagnosed with tactile defensiveness but after reading this, I think this is describing me! I have always struggled with low-motivation and had trouble focusing in school. I am an adult now (38) but it seems to have gotten worse as I have gotten older. I can't stand my hands to be dirty...I must wash them about 50 times a day but then have to put lotion on them afterwards...dry hands will drive me up the wall. I don't EVER walk around barefoot, can't stand my feet getting dirty and when things stick to my feet-I feel like screaming. I am super-sensitive to smells (I am an educator so you know that is interesting) and can barely tolerate my husband touching me or even getting close enough to breathe on me (that irks me too-I also don't like air blowing on my face). I am so glad I am not alone! I am easily distracted by noises and get very agitated by them. For years, I have struggled with anxiety and depression, I am wondering if tactive defensiveness is why??? Thanks for posting this.

Nov 03, 2011
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Totally the same
by: Anonymous

S in the UK, I'm just like you. I HATE getting my hands wet, and the only thing worse than wet is dirty, slimy, sticky or worst of all, greasy. So as soon as they are dirty, I have to wash them. I can't stand dirty feet and wear socks all the time. I can't understand how anyone could walk around inside a house without socks on. What about all those little bits of dirt and crumbs?

I only wear loose fitting clothes nowadays. I used to have a job where I would occasionally have to dress up for client visits. I would have terrible, nearly incapcitating stomach pains every time. I thought the panty hose were too tight, so I kept getting bigger and bigger panty hose till they were so big they would be hanging down around my knees practically by the end of the day. And it didn't solve the problem. Now I feel like life is too short for pants that don't have spandex in them. :)

I have three kids, so I totally get the mom who is struggling with the messes. I really try not to flip out when I see a mess, knowing I'll have to get messy and then wet cleaning it up. But by the end of the day, I'm more strung out than the average parent, I'm convinced. All the sudden loud noises that you can't control, the messes, the touching that is all wrong, like when they come up behind you and surprise you buy touching you. I'm just hoping for answers, but I suspect it is "learn to cope by getting time away" or something. If I can lay in bed with the heavy covers over me for even 15 minutes, it helps.

Do any of you keep yourselves thin because you can't stand to have a roll of skin touching yourself? I never knew any of this was tactile defensiveness until I had two kids with pretty difficult clothing issues. My daughter currently will refuse to get dressed and will wear only underwear (thank goodness I found some that will work). If she consents to clothes, it's only a short sleeve-shorts combo that won't work this winter. Not sure what will happen with that when it gets colder!

Oct 20, 2011
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wow..
by: Anonymous

I'm 24 years old and never actually thought that maybe I have this disorder.. When I was a little girl I can remember every Sunday fighting with my mom and dad about having to wear socks with my Sunday dress shoes because of the seam in the sock.. I HATE SEAMS.. I couldn't stand to be dirty.. still can't of course.. if I spill something or if my kids spill something on me.. I have to change my clothes.. Also.. I can't stand to eat Hot Dogs unless they are burnt.. the texture kills me.. I can't push a cart at walmart because it vibrates my arms and its pure torture.. I HATE for ppl to try to make eye contact with me.. it freaks me out and I have to leave the room.. If I get anything like ketchup, mustard.. ANYTHING.. I have to wash my hands immediately.. this is very difficult to deal with.. I have 2 small kids that make horrible messes daily lol.. and to me it really is like a million spiders you can't get off of you or nails on a chalk board.. which just thinking about kills me.. lol... Nice to know I'm not alone.. :)

Oct 05, 2011
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handsy
by: Anonymous

OMG! im so happy ive found a possible answer. ok so. im 14 years old and ive always thought i had ocd. but recently i heard about this. my problem is lotioning my hands. i feel like theyre dry and if i dont lotion them ill die. i literally CANT touch ANYTHTING when my hands feel like this. ill curl my hands up in a ball until i get lotion. alos, touching clothes, especially jeans or socks bother me. its like it hurts my teeth or something. oh i also have this problem with my feet and sometimes my lips. but its not as severe. when the dry hands are the worst is usually in the morning and after i wash my hands. ive even avoided washing my hands at school after i go to the bathroom. (i know its gross but i cant focus if i dont have lotion) please please please reply if you have any tips!!!!!!! PLEASE. MY EMAIL IS boballace3@yahoo.com. thanks. :)

Oct 05, 2011
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handsy
by: Anonymous

OMG! im so happy ive found a possible answer. ok so. im 14 years old and ive always thought i had ocd. but recently i heard about this. my problem is lotioning my hands. i feel like theyre dry and if i dont lotion them ill die. i literally CANT touch ANYTHTING when my hands feel like this. ill curl my hands up in a ball until i get lotion. alos, touching clothes, especially jeans or socks bother me. its like it hurts my teeth or something. oh i also have this problem with my feet and sometimes my lips. but its not as severe. when the dry hands are the worst is usually in the morning and after i wash my hands. ive even avoided washing my hands at school after i go to the bathroom. (i know its gross but i cant focus if i dont have lotion) please please please reply if you have any tips!!!!!!! PLEASE. MY EMAIL IS boballace3@yahoo.com. thanks. :)

Oct 05, 2011
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handsy
by: Anonymous

OMG! im so happy ive found a possible answer. ok so. im 14 years old and ive always thought i had ocd. but recently i heard about this. my problem is lotioning my hands. i feel like they're dry and if i dont lotion them ill die. i literally CANT touch ANYTHING when my hands feel like this. ill curl my hands up in a ball until i get lotion.

also, touching clothes, especially jeans or socks bother me. its like it hurts my teeth or something. oh i also have this problem with my feet and sometimes my lips. but its not as severe. when the dry hands are the worst is usually in the morning and after i wash my hands. ive even avoided washing my hands at school after i go to the bathroom. (i know its gross but i cant focus if i dont have lotion) please please please reply if you have any tips!!!!!!! PLEASE. MY EMAIL IS boballace3@yahoo.com. thanks. :)

Mar 02, 2010
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I'm not alone!
by: Anonymous

For years I haven't been able to touch a newspaper, catalog pages or pottery. It feels worse than hearing nails on a chalkboard - doing so causes me to literally want to crawl out of my body. My 10-year-old daughter expressed to my one day in secret that she couldn't help her brother deliver newspapers because she couldn't stand to touch them.

Today at work I had to do coverage in the ceramics shop and confided in the staff that I couldn't bare to touch the pottery. She told me about tactile defensiveness. I would very much like to learn more about this. It is good to know, finally, that there is a name for it and that my daughter and I aren't the only one's who have this!

Mar 22, 2009
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sensitivity to air on my body
by: Anonymous

I have a problem when I blow air on my body, specifically my arms, hands , and especially as I am a guy who in the summer has his shirt off, my right NIPPLE is very sensitive to having it touched with air, when I am outside and wind hits it, it really doesn't bother me at all, but when I am inside and blow on it, it drives me absolutely crazy!! I can't lean back in a lounge chair because of the air hitting right on my nipple, it is very horrible, I can't sit sleeveless much at all, I wish I had known of SPD before I was 28 yrs old!!

Feb 18, 2009
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Carpet feet
by: Anonymous

My daughter has always had a repulsion to her feet on the carpet too.... so you don't sound weird at all..... she also doesn't like certain food textures - like marshmallows! and others.

She is now 27 and even though I do not consider her having SPD, certain things have bothered her through the years - and she was always tender-headed to a hair brush and wouldn't let me brush her hair when little... tags in her clothes, etc. bother her...... I wish I'd have know about SPD 25 years ago, b/c I may have checked into it for her. Sue (IL)

Jul 08, 2014
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Maybe not my problem after all.
by: H-jAnder

After reading some information on this disorder, I thought maybe it was my problem. I was brought up by parents who could not bear noise (strange since I was the youngest of 10 kids), but we were all made to consider others & not make anymore noise than was absolute necessary for any particular thing. I have always HATED loud thumping & banging music, especially over the years with the latest stereos which make it even worse & then there are the despicably selfish people who seem to think that everybody HAS to hear their music.

I have also for the past more than 11 & half years, been subjected to harassment, intimidation & vindictiveness from a household in the street where I have lived for almost 18 years. Right from when the older kids were young, to now, with the younger 2 boys, running amuck & yelling & screaming & deliberately trying to get the ball onto my property as they still think that is an excuse to trespass & get the ball back. These kids have NEVER been taught to be quiet & respect other people, or our properties. They have had so many parties over the years where the music is SO LOUD that they can be heard blocks away. They have also had the music in whatever vehicles they have & still own, thumping & banging loud, especially the 21 year old, can be heard when he enters the road out from this one & all the way along it, because of the huge speaker he has taking up the whole back of the 4WD.

The people next door who have lived there for over 2 years, for most of that time played their music LOUD, in the family room with the sliding door open, at the side of the house, so that it came into my side windows (2 big loungeroom windows, big bedroom window & bathroom window not much smaller) & on top of that, have always left their dog outside to bark & bark & bark, for most of the day & night. So, after reading info on this subject on other sites, I don't know that I have this problem, I just think it is to do with our very selfish & arrogant society we live in these days & that I am subjected to the noise that people think they are allowed to make with no thought for other people's peace, comfort & privacy. Well maybe I have a little bit of this problem, but nowhere near as bad as other people.

Jan 13, 2011
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So glad l'm not alone!
by: S in the U.K

Hi, and thanks to all of you posting your stories, it seems the U.S is ahead of the U.K with SPD and Tactile defensiveness. I was initially looking into these issues for my son and realised that l had a majority of them myself. I can't stand to touch carpet it is worse to me than nails on a chalk board, l get goose bumps and just tense up crindging from it. Many materials do this to me, l'm very picky about my bath towels as the sensation seems to be heightened after a shower. l can't stand baths either. I hate dressing up and always feel scruffy because l have to dress comfortably, anything tight or restrictive in any way just drives me to distraction. My doctor has dismissed my suggestion of another condition and just thinks l'm depressed but l think something has caused it. I am always hot and irritable and jump if someone coughs or makes a louder than comfortable noise. So many things even back in childhood(I'm 33 now)l hated being tickled (still do). I used to faint if l got hurt as a child but l craved a thrill like riding my bike fast down hill. I have always felt different and had relationship problems. I am at a loss what to do really, everyone says you grow out of these things, l haven't & am frustrated. S.

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