The tactile system refers to receptors located in our skin that send messages to the brain to process and interpret information including: temperature, texture, pain, pressure, and traction. Tactile sensitivity (either hyper-, hypo-) can look like:
- Avoiding messy play, avoiding messy hands
- Avoids hair washing/hand washing
- Has difficulty with certain clothing items/textures or tags
- Needs to touch everything! Appears fidgity
- Avoids hugs or cuddles, avoids activities that include physical contact with others
- Seems unaware of pain
- Bumps into others or objects
Tactile input can affect level of arousal (Light touch tends to be alerting such as tickling, light or cold touch. Deep pressure touch, such as bear hugs, deep, warm, or soft touch are calming).
A fun, interactive, and engaging way to introduce tactile input to a child is through a sensory bin. It is best to begin with dry textures (beans, fabrics, puffs, rice) and to then slowly move to wet textures (shaving cream, foam, applesauce, oatmeal + water) once your child can tolerate covered hands in the texture without showing signs of distress.
A sensory bin that is both practical and enjoyable is edible sand! This is a dry texture, and a perfect introduction to sensory bins for children who love to mouth everything.
- Take cheerios
- Add them to the blender
- Voila! You have made edible sand!
- Add the edible sand to a lipped baking sheet or box to contain, add in some scoopers/animal toys/cars/cups/spoons etc. to increase the fun! If your child is hesitant about any sensory bin to start, make sure to have toys available so they can interact with the new texture using the toy as a buffer.