The experiences of a group of parents with tactile defensive children

Ruan Spies, Esme van Rensburg


Aim:  Tactile defensiveness is a phenomenon that infringes on the daily lives of many young children and their parents. This study explored the experiences of parents of children with tactile defensiveness. As primary caregivers, parents’ experiences of the condition can give valuable insight into the possible considerations regarding intervention approaches used by professionals. Relatively little research has been done on the topic.

Method: A phenomenological framework was used, gathering the data via a thematic content analysis of interviews held with seven participants concerning their experiences of the condition.

Results:  It became evident that many different areas of the parents’ daily living were affected. Parents reported feelings of emotional turmoil in relation to their children, including frustration, exhaustion, incompetency and not having their own needs met.  They experienced that having a child with tactile defensiveness influenced the parent-child relationship.  Tactile defensiveness also impacted on siblings and the relationship between the parents.  However, parents also reported that they found their own unique ways of dealing with the condition which enhanced their coping abilities. The important role of psychologists and occupational therapists in providing parents with information regarding tactile defensiveness were highlighted.  The findings of this study aim to guide parents and professionals alike in the process of dealing with a child diagnosed with tactile defensiveness


Keywords:  Tactile defensiveness, tactile, sensory integration disorder, processing disorders


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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