Tactile System

Top 10 Signs for Feeding Difficulties

The following list are common symptoms of children with feeding difficulties that may be the result of oral tactile sensitivities.

Also, please note that there may be a medical component if your child is struggling with eating a variety of foods / eating enough to sustain the appropriate weight. If you have concerns with your child’d feeding skills and/or weight gain, consult your pediatrician. Medical issues such as food allergies or acid reflux can have similar symptoms as those listed below.

1.) Resisting any smooth textured foods (yogurt, pudding, pureed foods)
2.) Very limited diet, usually only tolerating 3-5 foods
3.) Wanting food at only one temperature (has to be room temperature, for example)
4.) Wanting only dry, crunchy foods
5.) Extremely limited tolerance for fruit, vegetables, and meats
6.) Eating only with utensils, never touching foods with hands
7.) Always prefers to be served alone, never touching other foods
8.) Preference for beige foods
9.) Difficulty eating meals at the table
10.) Difficulty with brushing teeth

Top 10 Signs for Tactile Defensiveness

Tactile Defensiveness can be defined as a condition in which an individual is extremely sensitive to light touch and may be interpret light touch input as noxious or painful.

More information on Tactile Processing

1.) Difficulty with having messy hands (dislike play doh, finger paint, playing in sand)

2.) Difficulty with hair cuts, nail cuts, hair washing, and other grooming tasks

3.) Anxiety with touching foods

4.) Anxiety with eating a variety of foods

5.) Resisting brushing teeth

6.) Avoiding water play

7.) Strong preferences for having long sleeves and/or certain fabrics, always wanting shoes on

8.) Strong preferences to only wear diaper / underwear

9.) Difficulty crawling / walking across different ground coverings, like grass, sand, or textured carpet

10.) Difficulty cuddling, accepting hugs

The Tactile System and Sensory Processing Disorder

The tactile system includes nerves under the skin’s surface that
send information to the brain. This information includes light touch, pain, temperature,
and pressure. These play an important role in perceiving the environment as well as
protective reactions. Both over sensitivity and decreased awareness of tactile input
is possible.

Tactile defensiveness is a condition in which an individual is extremely
sensitive to light touch. Theoretically, when the tactile system is immature and working
improperly, abnormal neural signals are sent to the brain which can interfere with other
brain processes. This, in turn, causes the brain to be overly stimulated and may lead to
excessive brain activity, which can neither be turned off nor organized. This type of over-
stimulation in the brain can make it difficult for an individual to organize one’s behavior
and concentrate and may lead to a negative emotional response to touch sensations.

Possible Signs of Tactile processing deficits:

Withdrawing when being touched,
Dislikes kisses,
Dislikes rough clothes, tags, and/or seams in socks
Refusing to eat certain ‘textured’ foods and/or to wear certain types of clothing
Complaining about having one’s hair or face washed,
Avoiding getting one’s hands dirty (i.e., glue, sand, mud, finger-paint), and
Using one’s finger tips rather than whole hands to manipulate objects.
Misperception of touch and/or pain (hyper- or hyposensitive) and may lead to self-imposed isolation, general irritability, distractibility
Doesn’t realize hands or face are dirty,
Touches everything and anything constantly,
May be self-abusive, plays rough with peers,
Doesn’t seem to feel pain (may even enjoy it!)
Persistently walks on toes to avoid sensory input from the bottom of the feet.