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Behavior Checklist for Possible Sensory Integration Difficulties Tactile Defensiveness

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Lake County Society for Rehabilitation of Children and Adults

Sensory Ingtegration and the Child by A. Jean Ayers, Western Psychological Services, 1983

If your child frequently or consistently shows several of the following reactions, he is showing tactile defensive behavior. If several of these behaviros are seen in conjunction with hyperactivity and the inability to focus on a task, it is probably that he is tactilely defensive and should be evaluated by a sensory integration therapist.

  1. Avoids being touched on the face. He may move his head away from things that are near his face. Washing his face may be especially difficult.
  2. Finds the touching during dental work especially annoying, moves about a lot in the chair.
  3. Is very distressed about having his hair cut or washed.
  4. Dislikes it when people touch him, even in a friendly or affectionate way. Pulls away from a hug or even a pat on the shoulder. At other times, or from other people, he may accept the same kind of touch.
  5. Touching the child while dressing him may elicit a negative reaction. Simply pulling up his sock my make him react.
  6. Does not like it when someone bathes him or cuts his fingernails.
  7. Tends to avoid physical contact with friends, even though he likes to talk to them and relate without touching.
  8. Being approached from behind is more threatening then it is for other children.
  9. Having people near him, even without touching, may cause him distress.
  10. Often prefers long-sleeved shirt or blouse and wears a sweater or jacket even when he is warm.
  11. Has unusual needs for touching or avoiding touching certain surfaces or textures, such as blankets, carpets, or stuffed toys.
  12. Is sensitive  to certain fabrics and avoids wearing clothes made of them.
  13. Does not like to get his hands in sand, finger paint, paste, or similar materials.
  14. Avoids going barefoot, especially in sand or grass.
  15. When he was an infant, experienced great discomfort when his nose or ears were cleaned with a cotton swab.
  16. Likes having boundaries.
  17. Avoids holding objects in hand, uses fingertips instead.
  18. Doesn’t like textured food.
  19. Walks on toes.
  20. Always seems on guard, or stressed.
  21. Needs everything in order, needs to know what to expect, also seems dyspraxic (difficulty with motor planning).


Gravitational Insecurity

Here is a summary of symptoms of gravitational insecurity. Not all symptoms are seen in any one child. Also, some of these symptoms are present in children who do not have integrative disorders.

  1. When his feet leave the ground, the child becomes anxious or struggles to keep his feet down. He may cooperate if he is assisted by someone he trusts.
  2. He has an unnatural fear of falling or of heights.
  3. He dislikes having his head upside-down, such as in somersaults, rolling on the floor, or tough-housing.
  4. He does not have fun on playground equipment or with moving toys.
  5. He avoids jumping down from a higher surface to a lower one.
  6. The child is particularly slow at unusual movements, such as getting into a car, moving from the front seat to the back, or walking up or down hill or over bumpy ground.
  7. He may take along time to learn to go up or downstairs, and uses the banister more than other children.
  8. He may avoid climbing, even simple climbing when he can hang on with both hands.
  9. He is afraid of walking on a raised surface, it seems high to him, although not to others.
  10. He feels as if he will lose his balance when he is spun around.
  11. Going around corners rapidly in a car frightens him.
  12. The child appears to be judging space inaccurately, although the problem actually is that he cannot handle movement within that space.

Visual Perception Disorders

  1. Does not build well with blocks as a young child.
  2. Cannot put puzzles together as well as other children.
  3. Is hesitant in going up or down curbs as other children.
  4. Has trouble finding his way from one place to another and gets lost easily.
  5. Does not like to be in strange places, because he knows he can easily become lost.
  6. Does not draw well with a crayon or pencil as early as other children.
  7. Has trouble recognizing the similarities and differences patterns or designs.
  8. Has hard time seeing a particular figure against a background.
  9. Cannot make his letters stay between the lines or in the proper spaces for words.
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