Why “Just Toughen Up” Is the Wrong Approach for Kids With Sensory Processing Issues

I once had a 7-year-old boy in my school named Joe who had sensory processing issues. Joe reacted strongly when anyone touched him, especially if he wasn’t expecting it.

He had trouble in gym class and in hallways at school where other kids might bump into him. He would yell and sit on the floor holding his legs to his chest to avoid situations where he might be touched. At home, he didn’t want to be hugged or kissed. Family events were a nightmare.

Both the school and Joe’s mother made accommodations for his tactile sensitivity. But Joe’s father wasn’t on board, and he came to talk to me since I was an administrator at the school.

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