Children with sensory processing disorder (formerly referred to as sensory integration dysfunction) often are tactile defensive, which means that they react violently against a certain item of clothing, be it woolly dress, synthetic fabric, socks, or even the label on the school shirt. This hypersensitivity or defensiveness could be something that a child is born with or developed later in life, when the nervous system is disrupted by triggers such as stress; a child with tactile defensiveness perceives tactile input (e.g. from clothing) as being unpleasant or threatening to her body. Thus, that particular item of clothing feels irritating. Some tactile-defensive children find it irritating to have their hair combed or toothbrush brushing against their gums. In extreme cases, eating is a problem because the child finds the sensation of food going down her throat intolerable.
The Emperor’s New Onesie is a short film made by a mother whose child decided to go naked because of tactile defensiveness.
Note: hyposensitivity (or tactile under-sensitivity or under-responsiveness) is when the reverse is the case and those who are hyposensitive are underwhelmed by stimulus in their world, such as changes in temperature or wind blowing. They may seek out additional sensory information to feel content; I remember a child who crashes into other children and runs into walls to seek that reassuring input. Thus, being wrapped up tightly in a blanket goes some way towards calming the nervous system down in the same way (for related article, click Happiness is a warm blanket).
This is a thick cotton blanket hand-crocheted for the purpose. At 2.5kg, it provides comfort from its weight and warmth, and not irritating in most cases to those who are tactile defensive.
Construction of the cotton owl blanket:
Tactile oversensitivity also interferes with the development of fine and gross motor skills and may impede other developmental milestones, as children learn by touching and tasting. By not feeding their sensory systems with normal and regular inputs, children miss out on information-gathering of their environment.
Training the senses and developing motor skills
Our methodology is to create a secure and calm place for then child first of foremost, and then introducing these two activities:
1. SENSORY BOX Make a personalised sensory box by filling it with items of various different textures. Change the items to accommodate the growth and needs of your child.
2. FUN ACTIVITIES INVOLVING THE SENSES Guiding a child through fun activities involving her senses, such as crawling on rough carpets, splashing on puddles, playing with mud and making paper mache models.
For more information about the pure cotton, weighted owl blanket, please click on this link.