Tactile Perception – Definition, Activities, How It Works And Affects

We not only touch, but we feel and that is what tactile perception is all about , our tactile sense is not simply a passive receiver of information, but actively selects and refines sensations according to our current goals and perceptions. Our fingers, hands and bodies are not external to the world, but direct actions within it to access the information we need. Therefore, tactile sensation, perception, and action cannot simply be viewed as a forward process, but form a closed loop.

What is tactile perception?

It is the ability of the brain to understand (perceive) the information that comes from the skin , especially the skin of the hands. The hands are used to record sensory information and then the brain uses this information to guide the hands during an activity.

Touch is the first of our senses to develop , providing us with the sensory scaffolding in which we come to perceive our own bodies and our sense of self, it also provides us with direct access to the external world of physical objects, through the exploration of our hands.

Touch is of such fundamental importance in a wide range of social and cognitive domains, it should be placed much more centrally in the study of early perceptual development than it is today.

Technically, it consists of passive tactile perception, where the skin simply makes contact with an object, and active haptic perception, where the child actively and intentionally explores and manipulates objects with their hands. Haptic perception uses information from the muscles and joints of the hands (proprioception) to allow us to perceive the shape, size, and weight of an object, while texture, temperature, and hardness can be perceived from touch receptors.

Activities to improve the development of tactile perception

Tactile perception activities can help the child to develop it in a more simple way, this in turn, can help the development of good fine motor skills.

The activities here are roughly ranked from easy to hardest, so start at the level that you think will be the most satisfying and fun for your child, and then make it easier or more challenging as needed. These activities will help your child learn how to process touch feedback from hands and fingers more effectively.

Tactical game of household objects

Put several familiar household objects in a cloth bag, and ask your child to feel one and tell you what it is without looking, then you can take out the object and see if he was right.

  • Tip: Make sure your child knows the names of all the objects, if language skills are an issue then have a set of matching items out of the bag that your child can point to.
  • Make it harder: Ask him to find a specific object
  • Add interest: Use objects related to a theme, such as kitchen objects, bathroom objects, toys, etc.

Touch activity with grocery products

Use packaged grocery items such as dried beans, rice, popcorn, macaroni, pasta shells, jellies, raisins. Make sure your child knows everyone’s names first and have them feel the packages to get an idea of ​​how they differ.

Ask your child to put both hands in the bag where all the products are, to feel a package, and to tell you what object it is. After “guessing,” let him take it out to see if it is correct.

It is very similar to the previous activity with the only difference in the products to be used.

Tactile discrimination: shape activity

Before starting, let your child feel each shape as he describes it (or let him describe it himself). For example: a circle is round and has no corners, a square has 4 equal corners and 4 sides, but the diamond has 2 narrow / sharp corners and 2 wider corners, etc.

Put one of the shapes in the bag and place the other on the table for your child to look at, to help with identification, he should use both hands to manipulate the shape and then tell you what shape it is.

  • Make it harder: Ask your child to find a specific shape, or increase the number of shapes in the bag.
  • Add interest by finding specific ways needed to build an image.

How does tactile perception work in our life?

When you put your hand in your bag and look inside to retrieve your keys, it is your tactile perception that will help you find them with the sensation. Stop for a moment and think about how it feels to wash dishes with rubber gloves or plant a delicate seedling with garden gloves – wearing thick gloves only limits your ability to know what your hands are doing.

When you don’t get good feedback from your fingers, it is difficult to be precise with them, it is more likely to be clumsy and end up crushing the delicate roots of the plants or breaking the fragile crystals. This is what poor tactile perception feels like.

Usually, there is nothing wrong with the nerves in the hands, but the brain is not processing the information from the hands correctly, and therefore does not respond adequately to the task at hand.

How weak touch perception can affect children?

Typing speed and readability have been found to be affected by tactile perception. The brain needs to accurately perceive tactile and proprioceptive information from the fingers and use that information to control the pen and form letters accurately.

Children with poor tactile perception may feel very slow while holding small or fragile items, they may hold a pencil very tight to help them “feel” the pencil better. For this reason, having precise tactile perception is an essential foundation for the development of good fine motor skills.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.