Happy Learners - Managing Sensory Needs - Touch

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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.



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.


You may also be interested in the following pages:

Managing Sensory Needs - Hearing

Managing Sensory Needs - Movement

Managing Sensory Needs - Smell


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