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Home > Resources > Wilbarger "brushing" Protocol
The Wilbarger Protocol is a therapy program designed to reduce sensory or tactile defensiveness. Children who exhibit symptoms of tactile defensiveness are extremely sensitive to touch. This can cause a fear or resistance to being touched, difficulty transitioning between activities, and/or lethargy. The therapy was developed by Patricia Wilbarger, MEd, OTR, FAOTA.
There is not much documented research on the Wilbarger Protocol. However, many parents of children with autism have reported seeing decreases in sensory defensiveness and anxiety as a result of using this technique. Some of the benefits of the Wilbarger Protocol may include improved ability to transition between daily activities, improved attention span, a decreased fear or discomfort of being touched, enhanced coordination, and self-regulation.

Wilbarger “Brushing” Protocol

• Firm, constant pressure, in longest up and down strokes possible
• Brush is always hold horizontally
• Arms, backs and legs. NO stomach, inner thigh, or neck
• Followed  by scrubbing on hands/ feet
• Followed by joint compression
• If possible done over skin. If over clothing try to pull out the wrinkles
• Done every two ‘waking’ hours

Step-by-step brushing

1. Left arm (count to 10 and rotate arm as you count to get all possible skin surface)
2. Left hand (scrub palm)
3. Move to back ( keep brush in contact with body as much as possible –move from left hand up left arm and to back) Count to 10 and brush up and down back.
4. Right arm ( count to 10 and rotate arm as you count to get all possible skin surface
5. Right hand (scrub palm)
6. Left leg (count to 10 and rotate arm as you count to get all possible skin surface)
7. Left foot (scrub sole of foot)
8. Right leg (count to 10 and rotate leg as you count to get all possible skin surface)
9. Right foot ( scrub sole of foot)

Step-by-step joint compressions

• Done in relaxed position/sitting position
• ‘Squishing’ the area between 2 joints – firm pressure
• 10 reps per joint


1. Shoulder to elbow (easiest with elbow at RIGHT ANGLE – 90 degree angle – to the shoulder)
2. Elbow to wrist (wrist positioned in neutral – supporting wrist)
3. Fingers (gentle/light traction)


1. Hip to knee (easiest while sitting in chair)
2. Knee to ankle


Oral    (check with OT for appropriateness of inner mouth stimulation)

1. “1=2=3” swipe upper palate, immediately behind teeth
2. “Down-Down” on 2 lower front teeth

Momo’s Special Toys does not endorse this practice. This is an information flier only. We recommend that you seek an Occupational therapist that is trained in sensory integration and know how to use the Wilbarger protocol.