Help Your Child Explore Touch

By Laura Funk, Occupational Therapist

Some children can be described as ”sensory avoiders”.  They tend to withdrawal from touches and may experience intense emotional reactions when they are challenged with unwanted touch sensations. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are some children who seek intense physical pressure.  These are the children that love to climb and crash or get messy while eating or playing. In extreme cases, they don’t appear to feel pain.

The following activities are helpful to those children experiencing Sensory Processing Disorder related to touch or tactile challenges. As always, you should discuss this with your healthcare professional and choose activities that are most appropriate for your child’s specific needs.

Sensory Activities to Help Your Child Explore Touch

  • Free play with mud, play dough, sand, water or bubbles help improve tactile processing.
  • Kneading bread dough can be a fun way to introduce a new texture that is pliable and responsive to touch.   You can use frozen bread dough that has been defrosted and at the end bake your child’s creation!
  • Indoor table top sensory boxes for your child choose an “ingredient” to explore such as rice, dry beans, plastic beads or even shaving cream.  Pour the ingredient into a shoebox / plastic container with a lid along with toys as well as scooping tools such as measuring cups and spoons. Helping them dig and bury treasures is all part of the fun!
  • Create a “sandwich” with your child by pressing him or her gently between two pillows or couch cushions to provide the level of “pressure” they may be desiring.
  • Create a “burrito” with your child by rolling him or her tightly in a blanket or lap quilt.
  • Covered with a smock, let you child finger paint with a variety of new textures.  Use a cookie sheet and a variety of textures such as pudding, hummus, yogurt, or applesauce for them to create!
  • Venture outdoors to collect different textures, looking for things that are smooth, things that are bumpy, things that are soft and so on.
  • Create a texture scavenger hunt at home for your child by hiding items of various textures for he or she to explore!
  • Use bath time to introduce your child to different textures with a soft or nubby washcloth, a puff bath ball, a loofah, a pumice stone or a nail bush.

For more information about teli Early Intervention Services, call 412-922-8322.