Helping all children become happy learners

Managing Touch Sensory Needs


Children with sensory needs involving touch (tactioception) may be over or under-stimulated by tactile experiences. This can cause a range of sensory seeking or avoidance behaviours that can have a significant impact on their interactions with others.


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 (skin picking). 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.


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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