Tactile seekers are desensitized to touch and crave sensory stimulation via specific textures, temperatures, and deep pressure. Seekers may seem to need constant stimulation. However, they tend to become more deregulated as they take in more input. Many seekers experience symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), such low impulse control, inability to focus, and behavioral problems.
See below for some ways to identify and support tactile seekers.
Tactile Seekers May:
- Prefer toys, clothing, and food with varied or specific textures.
- Constantly touch or fiddle with clothing, surfaces, or other objects.
- Crave hugs, kisses, and other frequent or prolonged contact with others.
- Prefer messy play and activities, such as finger paint, play doh, and sand.
- Tend to play too rough and accidentally harm others while playing.
- Have difficulty recognizing and respecting others’ personal boundaries.
- Have a higher than normal pain threshold and might not notice minor injuries.
How to Support Your Tactile Seeker:
- Use fidget spinners, stress balls, and stretchy bands.
- Provide a variety of textures in toys, clothing, and food.
- Play with finger paints, Play-Doh, sand, mud, and other messy objects.
- Build a sensory table at home and include water, sand, Legos, or other textures.
- Place Velcro, stickers, or fidgets in study areas to help your child stay focused.
- Practice ways to respect personal space while eating, playing, lining up, etc.
Keep in mind that no two children are exactly alike, and most people exhibit both seeking and avoiding behaviors from time to time. If you think your child might be suffering from sensory processing issues, you should seek a professional assessment. The STAR Institute’s Treatment Directory is a great resource that can help you find therapists, doctors, and community resources in your area.