Happy Learners - Managing Sensory Needs - Touch

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Sensory Needs

Touch (Tactioception)

Strategies to support children with sensory needs involving touch

Hyposensitivity

Children who are hyposensitive to touch have a much higher threshold before they feel tactile sensations. This often leads to sensory seeking behaviour such as rough play, fiddling with things and less commonly dermatillomania. Strategies that can support them include:

Providing them with fiddle toys
Sensory and wobble cushions
Weighted blanket
Walking in bare feet
Letting them drink water from a sport bottle during lessons
Plastercine or Theraputty to manipulate with their hands
Elastic bands or hair bands around the wrist to flick
Large physio bands or Therabands for more gross motor coordination and stimulus.

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Hypersensitivity

Children who are hypersensitive to touch have a much lower threshold before they feel tactile sensation. They are easily irritated by everyday tactile experiences like brushing past people in busy classrooms and corridors or shopping centres. They may frequently complained of being hurt by others. They may be very sensitive to small injuries. They may avoid everyday situations and contexts to avoid being 'hurt'. Strategies that can support them include:

Avoiding crowded places
Moving around school before after breaks etc so they avoid the frequent jostling of busy corridors
Weighted blankets, rucksacs etc may help
Remove labels from clothing
Use seamless socks
Explore detergents and fabric conditioners to determine what is most comfortable
Seat the child in the class near a wall away from busy footfall areas
When teaching children on the carpet seat the child on edge of group. Consider letting them use a cushion or sitting on a chair
Avoid drafts and let them wrap up in cold weather. They may need to wear a tracksuit for outdoor PE (Physical Education) lessons.

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You may also be interested in the following pages:

Managing Sensory Needs - Hearing

Managing Sensory Needs - Movement

Managing Sensory Needs - Sight

Managing Sensory Needs - Smell

Managing Sensory Needs - Taste

Sensory Diet

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Sources:

Cheng, M., & Boggett-Carsjens, J. (2005). Consider Sensory Processing Disorders in the Explosive Child: Case Report and Review. The Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review, 14(2), 44–48.
Laurie, C. (2013) Sensory Strategies London: The National Autistic Society