Tactile (Touch)


The tactile system is responsible for the body’s ability to perceive pressure, temperature, traction, and pain using receptors in the skin. Children with tactile processing issues may have an unusually high or low pain threshold and be very particular about the texture of their clothing, toys, and other surfaces.

Tactile Seeking Tactile Avoiding
  • Seeks physical contact with others
  • Frequently touches or fiddles with common objects
  • Likes to touch, rub, or squeeze objects and surfaces with different textures
  • Has a high pain threshold
  • Prefers tight or textured clothing
  • Dislikes being hugged or kissed, even by parents or other family members
  • Dislikes crowds and worries about being touched or bumped while playing
  • Has a low pain threshold
  • Refuses to wear tight, scratchy, or “uncomfortable” clothing or shoes
  • Is easily irritated by tags, seams, or specific fabrics
  • Does not like to be messy or dirty and avoids playing in sand or dirt
  • Does not like water on his/her skin and hates taking a bath or shower
  • Screams and appears to be in pain when hair is brushed
How to Support How to Support
  • Encourage using fidget spinners, stress balls, and textured toys.
  • Encourage playing with sand, water, and sensory tables.
  • Provide a variety of seating options, such as stools, pillows, bean bags, and balance chairs.
  • Be conscious of your child’s high pain threshold and ensure he/she is playing safely.
  • Engage in deep pressure therapy.
  • Advise family and friends that physical contact is not desired.
  • Remove tags from clothing, or turn uncomfortable clothing inside out.
  • Seek out soft, loose fitting clothes.
  • Encourage using tools or gloves when engaging with specific textures.
  • Introduce new textures slowly.

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