This is my first visit to mumsnet, but when I saw this discussion I had to write something. We have just completed 6 weeks of the "deep pressure brushing technique" on our little girl. She is tactile defensive and it is having a big impact on her motor skills and therefore overall development. There is a certain technique to this and our OT had to train me on how to do this, as if it's not done properly you can actually make the problem worse. Also, after the brushing has been done every joint needs to be pulled and pushed 5-10 times to calm the system down afterwards. Altogether it takes about 3 minutes and we had to do it 5 times a day. The 1st 2 weeks we saw a massive change in her, she became much more confident with touching things and reaching for things, her eye contact improved and her general activity level was much better. The next 4 weeks we didn't notice any other changes so we have now stopped. In my experience it really worked for us, and would recommend it as long as it's done properly.
We brush DS1, we have a whole collection paint brushes, body brushes... it's something that his sensory integration therapist recommended. we also combine it with joint compression as barmymumma said
it does wonders in calming him, it really does, and it's a nice activity to do after his bath when he's watching his DVD. He stopped spending that time screaming and jumping on the bed as he really enjoys the brushing.