Tactile hypersensitivity

by Cassi
(St. Louis, MO)

I have a 20 month old son who has always "over-reacted" to things. Recently however, bath time has become a nightmare! He used to love taking baths, but he has in the last month or so hated it. We used to say time for bath and he would run to the bathroom, but not just the mention of a bath starts the process. He will become extremely anxious and freak out. It has bothered me because it isn't like his usual "fit" because he doesn't want to do something, it is shear terror. When he was younger we would take him in the shower with us, but around 1 year of age he started having major anxiety issues if we took him in the shower with us (that was probably the first time I noticed anything weird)


So then today at daycare, the teacher told me that he did the same thing when they were painting with feet. Freaked out with just his shoes being taken off. Once he realized they were not going to make him do it he calmed down some, but was extremely worried about his classmates and started taking them their shoes and socks.

Other things that go along with PSD that he has issues with are:
*As infant did not like to be cuddled or held (I can count on one hand how many times I personally rocked him to sleep as an infant)
*Distressed when diaper is being changed or clothes are being removed
* Does not like being extremely close to people (he does not "freak out" he just moves away quickly)
* Does not like having hair brushed
* Extreme anxiety to messy play - paint, whipped cream
* does not like having dirty hands - any time he gets a piece of dog hair on his hand he runs to one of us and goes ew, ew, ew until we take it off him
* Excessively ticklish
* Overly Distressed about having nails cut - to the point where both my husband and I have to hold him down to get it done.
* very picky eat with strong gag reflex

So I guess what is throwing me off is that he loves shoes and socks. Freaks anytime we take them off. Could this be because he likes the "secure" feeling of the tightness of the shoes and doesn't like the "random" feelings of things touching his feet when he is barefoot?

I guess I am just having a hard time deciding if I am paranoid or if I should be concerned. I feel like a lot of the things on the list could just be that he is 20 months old. But I want to get him the help he needs if he in fact needs it. Any input on anything would be great!

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Jun 14, 2016
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SPD or Bad Temper
by: Mandy

I was describing some of the following issues I am having with my 10 month old daughter, and she said she may have SPD.
~she SCREAMS when I wipe her at diaper change and tries to get away(warm or cold)

~she recently hates takibg a bath, tries to climb over the side of tub to get out

~has never liked people to touch her feet

~hates wearing shoes

~hates to wear pants or leggings

~SCREAMS and cries when combing hair
After reading previous comments I am a bit more concerned. I just thought she has a bad temper. Did anyone get diagnosed by a PCP first then contact Occupational Therapy? How early can it be diagnosed?

Nov 20, 2015
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Grandmother again.
by: Anonymous

I have been posting about my granddaughter with sensory processing disorder. She had this as a child. I hate to say it, but now she is 14 and this disorder has "morphed" into a severe anxiety and depression disorder with severe OCD. She is on multiple psychotropic medication, and altho she is extremely bright, is having trouble in school, has anxiety attacks at school, and trouble completing homework. She thinks her house is "contaminated" and has been living temporarily with me. Her OCD is kind of the hoarding type, she will have a serious meltdown if her stuff is touched or moved. This is so hard. Anyone else have this happen? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Nov 19, 2015
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Does Not Like To Be Touched
by: Anonymous

My daughter is 2 years old she only allows me to touch her but she hates to brush her teeth get her hair washed or combed. I don't know what to do. Any help would be helpful.

May 06, 2015
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Autism/Asperger's and No Touchy Touchy
by: Tammy

As an infant and even now as an adult, I do not like to be held, touched, stroked or caressed. It's like the contact is "sticky". Long after the other person's hand has been removed, I can still feel the sensation of the touch, and it doesn't feel good. Light caresses are the physical equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. I was diagnosed at the age of 45 with Asperger's, a high functioning form of Autism, and have since learned that this touch aversion is very common with Aspies/Auties. Touch sensation feels overwhelming, like every neuron is firing at once. It's very uncomfortable. I wish I wasn't this way, but I am. SO, if your child is having a touch issue, it might be worth it to get them checked for Autism/Asperger's.

Oct 30, 2014
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Sounds like my granddaughter
by: SusanAnonymous

My granddaughter had most of the same issues. She is now 13 and much better, has learned to adapt over the years, but still takes sometimes showers that last 1 and 1/2 hrs. Mostly this time is spent rinsing, because the soap "feels slimy". She also will not use conditioner or hand lotion. She likes bar soap better than body wash and uses baby shampoo because it rinses out easier. The clothing part does not seem to be an issue any longer, and she was always a cuddly baby. Get the book "The Out-of-Sync Child", it is all about sensory processing disorder. My son and his wife had your same tough time with her as a baby and child. Other than the above issues, she is very bright, sensitive to others, and has amazing goals for the future. Keep strong.It will get easier.

Oct 30, 2014
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We are not alone
by: jimmi

My so is almost 4 years old. I never k we what was wrong. Sometimes I'm allowed cuddles and other times he would freak out screaming, kicking and crying. It really worried me. He will not let us cut his hair or even comb his hair. It's really hard work. Sometimes he reacts badly to noises or lights. Only recently at nursery his key workers said he had sensory issues. I didn't understand. But through reading all your comments I don't feel so alone. I also have been advised to get him assessed for autism which quite frankly scares me.

Jun 11, 2013
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Finally we might know why
by: Freebean

My daughter will be 15 this month. She has always been a "different" child from birth. But no one had an answer of why she was like she was till a nurse said one word. Tactile.

I didn't know what that was so that's how I found myself here. From birth she hated being bounced like most babies. She had to be held close to your body or she would scream. As a child hyper sensitive to hot and cold, pain, loud noise, had an over active gag reflex, very few words till 26 months. The thing that still comforts her to this day is anything sticky. As an almost 15 year old, she carries a roll of tape in her purse at all times. No dr or anyone could explain why. Had her tested for autism, but was inconclusive. I am now going to talk to her dr about this disorder. Maybe finally, some answers and help!!

Aug 28, 2012
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Response to Cassie
by: Tracy

Cassie, I could have written your post myself, they only difference is that our little one loves hugs, we've been told he's a crasher not a spinner, he would let you squeeze him all day. He hates getting undressed, he hates his shoes being taken off, he hates the bath having his hair washed, nails cut, hair cut (I've given up and decided he can grow it long). He gets distressed when his hands are messy or even if he spills something on him or the table. He has to wash his hands all the time. I can't remember the last time I cut his toenails - he just kicks and fights and gets terribley upset. He has ezxema on his face and he won't let me put the cream on and eating - well... he is the most fussy picky eater and he still chokes when drinking fluids.

Mar 22, 2012
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OCD and SPD
by: Anonymous

I have a 9 year old son and he does not have problems with clothing but I do see issues with being touched. He will sometimes have all out tantrums when touched, especially if he doesn't expect it or someone taps him from behind. He will sometimes shake and cry because of it.He is an "adrenaline junkie" and has a need for feeling physical pressure. He has also been diagnosed with OCD.

Aug 02, 2011
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Grandmother, 2 yrs. later
by: Anonymous

My granddaughter is now 10 yrs. old, and almost totally over her sensory issues. She had no further treatment by an OT, but her parents did what was suggested and ignored her meltdowns and became stricter with her. I was against this approach as I am a nurse and believed she needed more professional treatment. But something worked! She is still fussy about some things, like what kind of shampoo and soap she uses, but at least she uses them. She still rinses for a long time if she is allowed to. Maybe she outgrew a lot of it, I don't know. But, I hope this can give some hope to struggling parents out there.

Aug 01, 2011
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NOT ALONE
by: Anonymous

to the 22 yr old:

my daughter after 6 months has been able to take baths again and get wet! there are things you can do, read up on sensory processing disorder. maybe a brushing protocol would work for you.. there are options, dont despair.. talk to your doctor.

Aug 01, 2011
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I don't feel alone anymore!
by: Anonymous

I have been searching the internet for what could possibly be wrong with me, i'm 22 and (like a lady said her son had problems with) I've always been anxious about having baths and showers, as like the lady described, my skin feels....not right afterwards, like, when its clean, its different.

Its hard to explain, but when i've had a bath or shower, I cant touch hardly anything! For a good day or so, then it seems to ease. And as the lady also commented, disposable gloves are the key to me functioning properly in daily life.

I just thought that I was really weird as I've never known or heard of anyone else with the same problem. But saying that, i don't talk about it much with people, as i'm embarrassed by it and ashamed, because i think that people are going to think i'm dirty, because i don't like my hands and feet being clean.

But now that i've found this website, and this condition, i'm going to discuss it with my doctor, not that i think there is much that they can do about it, by the sounds of it, which is slightly upsetting as i'd give anything to be normal.

Oct 01, 2010
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not paranoid....
by: Anonymous

I don't think you're paranoid! My almost 3 year old boy has some of the same problems. Although he loves the bath/shower, he has a complete melt down when its time to wet his hair and wash it. He severely dislikes anything messy...he hates mud, dirt, even snow on his hands. We haven't had an issues with socks as of yet, but he does prefer sandals out of all his shoes. In addition to the tactile defensiveness, he also has Childhood apraxia of speech, which makes things more difficult to figure out what bothers him, because he can't tell us whats going on. Your pediatrition or local childrens hospital should be able to help you diagnose and find the best therapy route for your little one.

Mar 20, 2010
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20 month old, refusing to walk
by: Anonymous

I have a 20 month old who is refusing to walk (she physically is fine, and an incredible climber) I am thinking after reading other blogs and SPD sites that she must have a hypersensitivity disorder. She too, likes to always have her shoe's and socks on, hates diaper changes, having clothes changed (either on or off), teeth brushed, nails clip, will spit food instantly out if she doesn't like it... So my next step is to call the Ped Dr. and figure out what to do next. Best wishes and good luck to all of you and your children

Jan 21, 2010
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You're not paranoid!
by: Anonymous

We have the same issues with my now 8 year old granddaughter. It started a lot younger, mostly with her screaming if you tried to put socks on her. She also hated underwear and tight clothing. Now it is a soap issue or anything that makes her skin feel "smooth". She has major meltdowns when being made to take a bath or shower or even just wash her hands. She will dig and scratch at her hands after she is made to wash them with soap, until they feel "rough" again to her. She will not pick up any finger foods that feel "greasy" to her, like pizza. She will now eat these foods if they are cut up for her and she can eat them with a fork. She will only wear "loose" clothing, and still hates socks and underwear.

She did see an O.T. for a few sessions, but it wasn't covered by insurance. My son and daughter in law were told to treat her at home, by "increasing her sensory diet", and trying to ignore the meltdowns and behaviors that went along with it. She has no diagnosis of Asperger's or any type of autism. She is very bright, talked at a young age and reads above her grade level. Treatment by an O.T. is the only treatment recommended. It is a very tricky and frustrating disorder.

I would have your son evaluated by an OT. The earlier, age wise, treatment is started the better. We waited too long with my granddaughter because we didn't know what we were dealing with. At least you know and he is still young. Good luck!!

Jan 14, 2010
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Bath time nightmare here too.
by: Anonymous

I have a 13 year old and have dealt with this for years. I have just learned to go with the flow. At the age your children are it is hard for them to completely explain what is wrong with them; my son still has trouble articulating what it is. Many times he will just tell me he doesn't feel right. Showers and baths are bad for my child because he tells me that his skin feels different after being clean, like it is super sensitive. As for working with 'messy' material like play-doh or shaving cream; I know many OTs will want them to touch, but when they are in the middle school setting there isn't an OT present and my son will just use disposable gloves. Saves the day!

Best of luck, I have just learned to work with with and not against him. Currently all he wears are sweatpants.

Dec 19, 2009
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my daughter
by: angie

this is my 2 yr old daughter. i am having the same problem with baths and it is horrible. it started like 2 months ago. i cant even wash her face or wipe her with wet wipes when she uses the bathroom without her freakin out now..no one seems to know what to do with the bath situation.. she is being evaluated for Aspergers on the 13th.

she likes her socks and shoes on too.. she wears her princess shoes always.. she wont wear boots or dress shoes. Christmas will be interesting. i just learned to not fight it. who cares if she is wearing sneakers with a dress... one less battle ya know!

good luck and if you figure out the bath thing, please post the idea on here, i can sure use it!!!

Dec 09, 2009
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Sounds familiar!
by: Anonymous

Your son's issues sound very much like my son's and he has what they call a mild case of SPD. He had OT for it and it did help a lot. Sounds like your son may need this to help him overcome some of his sensitivities. SPD affects different children in different ways so that could be why he doesn't have a problem with shoes and socks. Get an eval to find out for sure. It could only help! Good luck!

Apr 11, 2016
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Help
by: Anonymous

Hi i have a 3 yr old boy who absolutely hates the thought of having a shower or getting his haircut omg its an absolute nightmare his hair grows soo thick up ontop and only time i can is wen he asleep

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