Tactual Awareness Activities for Students with Vision and Additional Impairments

Below are some ideas for sensory stimulation (or experimentation) in the areas of touch and taste – and may prove useful for teachers who are working with students with vision and additional impairments:

  • Try the following on various parts of the body: hands, face, legs, arms, feet
  • Always tell the child what you are doing – talk to him/her so that contact is not unexpected
  • Look for responses to the stimuli – the child may respond while experiencing the stimulus, or when it is removed. Responses may include smiling, looking, turning towards or away, blinking, stilling, pulling an unhappy face, vocalising.
  • Record responses and the situation
  • At a later time, see if the response is repeated
  • Try to ensure the child is comfortable before embarking on an activity. If s/he has to concentrate on maintaining balance (for example), s/he may not respond to another stimulus.

Fanning

  • Use a Spanish or Chinese style fan or a piece of cardboard to gently fan the child
  • Vary the speed of fanning
  • Hold the fan nearer or further away
  • Pause for a while to see a reaction
  • Move to different parts of the body
  • Can try an electric fan, hair dryer, balloons or an air-bed type pump
  • Caution: be careful with powered devices. Check heat and power on yourself first.

Spraying

  • Use a garden type sprayer, and lukewarm water to spray various parts of the body
  • Vary the temperature of the water (but not too hot)
  • Change the spray to a jet
  • Try a watering can

Splashing and plunging

  • Use a bowl of lukewarm water and put the child’s feet or hands into it
  • Vary the temperature of the water (but not too hot)
  • Put different scents in the water
  • Put bubble bath in the water

Brushing and stroking

  • Use large soft, thick-bristled brushes (like make-up brushes) to gently brush various parts of the body
  • Brush faster and slower
  • Use different amounts of pressure
  • Vary the type of brush used
  • Try feathers, feather dusters, tissues, cotton wool, cotton buds, powder puffs, sponges, silk scarves or your own fingers

Textured surfaces

  • Use various different textures on a lap tray by placing the child’s hands palm down on the texture
  • Use your own hands to help the child feel the texture
  • Use different surfaces like brick, wool, fur, velvet, suede, plastic, embossed wallpaper, braille, packaging material like bubble wrap, rubber matting, etc
  • Try putting the child’s feet on the surfaces

Massage and firm touch

  • Use talcum powder to gently massage various parts of the body
  • Start with a gentle massage and become firmer
  • Vary the speed of massage
  • Use more or less talc
  • Caution: some children may be allergic to talc or suffer from asthmatic reactions – check medical information first

Taste awareness activities

Below are ideas for contrasting tastes, textures and drinks.
Caution: Beware of food allergies. Consult with the child’s medical information to find out what s/he can or cannot eat. Avoid foods with known risks, such as nuts.

Taste

  • Sweet: chocolate, honey, syrup, jam, sugar, peach chutney, apple sauce
  • Savoury: brown sauce, cheese, crackers
  • Sour/sharp: pickle, lemon, kiwi fruit, plain yoghurt, mango chutney, pineapple, mint sauce
  • Spicy: paprika, curry, chilli sauce, garlic
  • Salty: crisps, smoked bacon, kippers
  • Bland: plain cooked potato, plain boiled rice, plain pancake, plain boiled fish
  • Bitter: thick-cut marmalade, bitter lemon, grapefruit, pomegranate

Texture

  • Wet/sticky: custard, jelly trifle, yoghurt, ice-cream
  • Dry: biscuit, wafer, cornflakes, coconut
  • Hard: raw carrot, hard mints, boiled sweets, toffee, apple
  • Soft/spongy: sponge cake, sponge fingers, mashed potato, banana, pureed parsnips
  • Melt-in-the-mouth: crispy prawn crackers, chocolate
  • Smooth: plain yoghurt, mousse, cream cheese
  • Crunchy: crisp lettuce or coleslaw, cereals, crisp fruit

Different drinks

  • Hot: tea, coffee, milk, hot chocolate
  • Cold: iced tea, water, milk, fruit juice
  • Flat: fresh juice, cordial, tap water
  • Fizzy: lemonade, soda water
  • Thick: thick shake, soup

Adapted from: “Early Sensory Skills” by Jackie Cooke (Speechmark Publishing, UK, 1996) by Marion Blazé, Education Officer – Statewide Vision Resource Centre

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