What Is Tactile Sensitivity

What Is Tactile Sensitivity?- (Autism Activities)

What is Tactile Sensitivity?

The word “tactile” is also known as the sense of touch and tactile sensitivity (also known as tactile dysfunction) is a form of sensory dysfunction that causes tactile to be sensitive to the point of uneasiness or even pain.

Sensory processing disorder is when the brain has trouble interpreting what our bodies are feeling. This can lead to kids being too sensitive to certain textures, tastes, smells, and sounds. It also may make it hard for them to focus or pay attention in school because they are always distracted by things that other people don’t notice. There are a lot of ways you can help your child with this condition at home! 

This blog post talks about how sensory processing disorder affects children-both inside their homes and outside in the classroom setting-and offers suggestions on how parents can support their children’s development of coping skills. It discusses how sensory issues affect concentration level in school, as well as strategies for helping kids cope with these sensitivities at home

The sensory receptors in our skin send messages to our central nervous system so that we can process and interpret this incoming information. This includes temperature, texture, pain, pressure, and traction. Is the item safe to touch? What does it feel like?

Children with tactile dysfunction experience certain feelings more sturdily than other people do. What might be extremely uncomfortable for a person with tactile dysfunction can be a minor annoyance to other people. Certain fabrics can feel uncomfortable and scratchy, the texture of some foods can be so repellent that your child can’t eat them all. If your child is suffering from tactile dysfunction, the chances are higher that he may be sensitive to heat and cold, or the sensation of water or wind hitting his skin.


Kids with tactile sensitivity might have the following problems:

  • Complaining about clothing or shoes, even though they are made out of fabrics that are usually comfortable and seem to fit and fine. 
  • Difficulty with brushing teeth
  • Objection to having the hair cut or combed
  • Dislikes bath-time or water splashing
  • Dislikes hands or face to be dirty
  • Dislikes activities such as finger painting or playing with soft art supplies such as dough or clay
  • Dislike touching such as hugs or kisses.
  • “Picky eaters” as certain food textures are hard to tolerate
  • Sensitivity to touch when cutting nails from finger or toe 
  • Wincing or turning away when the wind blows against their face
  • Suffering from ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
  • Feeling too cold or too hot and complaining about mild changes in temperature

It is imperative to note that the sensations on their skin are real, and they undergo completely different experiences than other people do. It can be a source of strange behavior in kids and can also affect the growth of the kids. It is easy for children to learn by playing and exploring, but tactile sensitivity makes it difficult to enjoy such activities. 

Strategies for Helping a Child with Tactile Defensiveness 

The goal of these strategies is to normalize the way the nervous system registers and interprets touch information. Following activities are found to be useful and help children with tactile dysfunction.

  • Touch the child with firm pressure. Never use a light touch. 
  • A heavy bear hug is also excellent but make sure the child is expecting your touch; never surprise the child. 
  • Minimize possible tactile contact by allowing the child to go first or last in a line
  • Minimize time to wait in line and expected to stand 
  • Arrange some Space for children so that they are not sitting near enough to touch one another 
  • Encourage the child to brush the body with a natural sponge himself/herself during bath time 
  • Pay attention to which fabrics, types of clothing, play substances, or social situations are the main causes of negative reactions for the child. Until the problem is alleviated, try to stay away from such vexing situations. 
  • Heavy work activities like carrying groceries or laundry bags, wearing a heavy backpack, push/pull games and jumping activities provide a type of sensation which tends to calm down or organize tactile sensitivity. Helping your child to play jumping and lifting heavy household items may help to calm and organize him. 
  • Try gradually to add in a range of tactile experiences in play, eating, bath time, etc. It will help him to initiate play himself rather than having new or potentially threatening sensations imposed upon him. Demonstrate on yourself and make it fun and never force yourself to participate without willingness. 

Sensory Processing Disorder

 All in all, the findings of this study show that there is a strong connection between autism, tactile sensitivity and sensory processing disorder. Touch can be used as an intervention for people with SPD to help them process information better through their senses. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder or have your own diagnosis, try using touch more often in everyday life! It may make a huge difference. Have you found any ways to incorporate more touching into your daily routine? 

Activities For Tactile Sensory

There are interesting and fun-filled activities that can be useful to tackle the tactile sensory of the kids. These activities can help them to discover, learn and experiment with their surroundings. Remember never force or push a child to accomplish something that is making him or her feel uncomfortable as it will not necessarily make it better!

Garden Sensory Bins

This is the most engaging activity and allows kids to explore new materials and be imaginative. Sensory play improves learning through hands-on activities that stimulate the child’s senses.

Sensory play enhances learning through hands-on activities that restore the child’s senses. They are helpful for all children, but especially beneficial for kids with tactile dysfunction and autism spectrum disorder. 

You will need:

  • Soil
  • Flowers (artificial or cut)
  • Rocks
  • Shovels
  • Pots
  • Plastic bin 

Take a bag of potting soil and dump it in a bin. Add some rocks and artificial flowers. Give some pots and shovels to kids. Ask the kid to explore the soil in the sensory bin and let him feel the soil on his hands. Ask the kid to count the rocks to keep him engaged.

Now ask the kid to use the shovel to scoop the soil and drop it into the pot. Ask him to do it vigilantly so he would not drop any dirt on the ground. After filling the soil in the pot ask him to plant some flowers.

This activity is useful to improve the tactile sensory and motor skills of kids suffering from tactile dysfunction.

Tactile Paint

It’s best to work on the processing of tactile input as the child moves his finger along the paint and in addition promote visual-motor skills.

What You Need

Put ½ cup of tempera paint in the zip-lock bag, remove air and seal the bag. Now work the paint around until it fills the bag. Now ask the child to make lines, letters, or shapes by moving his finger outside the bag. 

Sensory Slime

Take some slime and ask the kid to touch and feel the softness of slime. The most important part of the activity is to mix and experiment with different textures. You can start with latex gloves and then slowly move to touching and feeling all the different textures. Start with the clear slime and then can add different beads to feel the texture.

What’s In The Box

The sensory box guessing game is good to practice tactile memory and a lot of fun too!

Supplies Needed for Guess What’s in the Box Game:

  • Cardboard box (medium size)
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper
  • Sticky tape

Take a cardboard box and make two holes on the upper side of the box to insert hands in the box. Use items from home with different shapes and textures to put in the box and must remain hidden from the player. 

Now ask the kid to close his eyes and put one of the items in the box. Allow the kid to put his hands in the box and feel the item within the specified time. They can move it around their hand and hold it. Ask them about the item. Encourage them to use their imagination and guess the item. If he guesses the item, he has to guess the next item. The game ends when he guesses all the items correctly.

Washing the Dishes

 This can be as easy as a little soapy water in the bottom of the kitchen sink, a dish brush, and some non-breakable items to wash (spoons are good). Or you could set this up in a water table, or a tub, with plastic plates, cups, and cutlery and a dish rack and tea towel on the table to dry the dishes once they are washed.

Pet Sensory Activity Set-Up

For this sensory activity, the setup couldn’t have been easier.

What We Need

  • Two plastic containers
  • Mud
  • Bubble bath
  • Cleaning supplies (towels, sponges, toothbrush, etc)
  • Dog figures or other animal figures

First, fill one plastic tub with mud and add water to make mud. Now put some pet toys in the mud and try to hide some pet figures in the mud and mix well with other figures to make them dirty.

Now fill the other tub with clean water, bubble bath and use some old brushes and pieces of cloth for cleaning and make the pet dry.

Ask him different questions related to pets or what animals can be kept as a pet at home. Ask him what he should do if his pet is dirty and let him start the activity and see how it goes.

It would be better if you help him by showing him a demo of the activity. You will be amazed by the results of this activity. 

It’s easy to repeat this activity, as after cleaning you can put the pet toys in the mud to clean them again and don’t forget to discuss interesting facts about that animal with the child. 

Sensory Balloons For Kids Tactile Sensory Play

Tactile activities are about touch. Some children may don’t like to touch and feel everything, especially anything messy or different. 


  • Balloons 
  • Fillers: Sand, Salt, Cornstarch, Marbles, Play Dough, Rice, and something slimy 
  • Airpower 
  • Funnel

Blow up the balloon and hold it for a minute and then allow it to release air. This will stretch the balloon to make for a larger texture balloon. 

Now put filler in the balloon with the help of a funnel. Put a funnel at the opening end of the balloon and put cornstarch in one balloon, fill sand in another using the same method. Fill all items one by one in all balloons. 

You can either keep them on hand for tactile sensory input to engage the mind and body or to calm the mind and body depending on what your child needs.

Before squeezing the balloons, make sure to tie them off well.

Shaving Cream Finger Paint 

Shaving cream is a great source of sensory play, easy to wash and the possibilities are endless with this activity. 

Spread shaving foam on the mirror or door glass and ask your child to draw the shapes and letters with the finger. This will help the kids to improve their motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and tactile system.  


Sensory processing disorder is a condition that affects the way people process information from their senses. This can include how they respond to sound, light, touch and other stimuli in their environment. The most common symptoms are tactile sensitivity or excessive reactions to sensory input which make it difficult for them to complete tasks without getting overwhelmed by these stimuli. If you think this may be affecting your child’s behavior at school or home, please consider seeking out an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory integration therapy. They will work with your child on developing coping skills so he/she can better handle everyday life situations that cause stress due to overstimulation of any one sense organ system. 

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