The Tactile System has two parts, both having very important roles in our ability to INTERACT and REACT to the world around us.
- Protective System: Touch is critical for our basic safety and survival. This system activates fright-flight responses. The entire body gets activated- stress responses may result.
Activities that help regulate the touch system:
NOTE: Some children struggle to cope with touch sensations. When this occurs, introduce these materials slowly and allow the child to determine how much play time. If the child refuses, go back to Proprioception type activities to get the Inhibitory System fired up to help cope with these novel experiences.
- Discriminatory System: This system develops with experience in the world. The more touch/tactile exploration, the better the ability to discriminate or feel things accurately!
Activities that help develop touch discrimination:
All of the activities listed above
Feeling Bags: Place common objects in a bag and have the child try to find the items without looking. Begin with simple, easy to identify objects (e.g. pencil, button…) Move on to more difficult (fork vs spoon). Eventually the child will be ready for difficult items such as discriminating coins and shapes.
- As tactile discrimination develops, concepts in visual form and spatial awareness also develop. For example, the concept of ROUND and SQUARE (as in sharp 90 degree corners of a coffee table) are learned as we touch and look at these objects.
Activities that integrate touch with visual information, building a strong base for spatial reasoning and other visual perceptual skills:
Mighty Minds and Smarty Minds