Tactile Learning

The Connection Between Tactile & Sensory Skills & Learning 

Sensory and motor development is the process whereby a child gains use and coordination of his/her muscles of the trunk, arms, legs and hands (motor development), and begins to experience through sensory input the environment through sight, sounds, smell, taste and hearing.

What the experts tell us:

    • Sensory input helps children make sense of the world and interact with the world around them. Children use cues from the environment to learn new skills, play, and participate in everyday activities. Our sensory systems such as sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell are organized by our brain to integrate all of these sensations, without becoming overwhelmed, distract, or disengaged.
    • Even things that don’t seem “sensory” actually are. Take handwriting, for example. In order to write, your brain must integrate a huge amount of sensory information: to remain upright in the chair (proprioceptive sense), to hold the pencil with an appropriate grasp using the appropriate force (tactile and proprioceptive senses), to form the letters appropriately with adequate spacing (visual and vestibular senses), to sustain endurance throughout the activity (vestibular and proprioceptive senses), to filter out distracting input (auditory senses).Types of Tactile/Sensory Tasks:
    • Sensory integration works to change the neurological system in the brain so that the child processes sensory input more effectively. Over time, the more sensory input the brain receives in a therapeutic way, the better equipped the brain becomes to integrate all the sensory input from a variety of environments. While sensory integration helps to find a balance in the brain, the child will need a variety in order to develop the necessary skills for school success. Because children have brains that are more plastic than adults, meaning they are still developing and the connections can be changed, the earlier they can begin developing their tactile and sensory motor skills, the better! 
    • Fine motor skills aren’t specific learning skills like reading or math are. But they directly impact how well kids are able to learn and show what they know. For instance, kids need fine motor skills to circle an answer in a bubble on a test or write an essay or response. Kids need to use fine motor skills to do many school-related tasks. These include: Holding a crayon or pencil, Drawing pictures and writing neatly, Stacking blocks and stringing beads, Using scissors, rulers and other tools, daily tasks like getting dressed and brushing teeth.


Instructor Spotlight: OT MOM Learning Activities at Home:


Make a "Sensory Corner" by blocking off a corner of the room and using soft furnishings with a variety of textures. A big comfy beanbag provides wonderful deep pressure and a snuggly effect which can be very calming.

A "sensory box" is filled with objects that have different textures and weights.Fiddling with or touching these objects could be soothing for an overstimulated child, or calming for a child who is wound up and sensory seeking. Items in the box can also be used to help a distracted child focus on listening to a book being read or paying attention to a lesson.

Deep Pressure Activities- Let your child lie on a mat or folded blanket and pack pillows on top to make him into a pizza or sandwich. 


Tactile Learning is one of the most versatile foundations, as it can be practiced with almost any piece of equipment inside the ABL Lab or classroom! Here's top picks from ABL Master Trainers:

Sensory Pod

Designed to be used as a calming station, Independent work station, or reading pod! Remove distractions & improve focus, to allow students of all ages to destress & reset. The ABL Sensory Pod provides a sense of safety and comfort for a student overwhelmed, and needing space to reset. The Sensory Pod provides an critical component to a child's needs, a safe environment that the student can control. 




The ABL drums were designed specifically for practicing and enhancing rhythm skills! Heavy duty padded foam drums mean no loud & distracting sounds. The indestructible frame was built with the active child in mind, and is designed to withstand rigorous daily use for 10+ yrs. Includes drumsticks and can be used inside the lab, classroom, or shared spaces/home use.



The whaler sensory board is textured with waves and bubbles on the surface to provide children with tactile stimulations to feet. The ergonomic board is designed for young children  to either sit in or stand on for a fun rock balancing game. The grooved waves design on the back provide variations in tactile input for the early elementary learner

Rainbow River Stones

These soft, tactile stones enhance vestibular system, coordination, and enhance tactile and sensory motor skills. Have your student walk on these colorful rainbow river stones while learning to balance, or add an academic mat for progressions and work on problem solving and motor planning. These movable balance stones allow for different patterns and varying distances between each stone to accommodate all levels. 




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