tactile attention involves joint attention and sharing an activity
or object through non-controlling mutual touch.
provide a means of communicative reciprocity between the child
and a communication partner. Mutual tactile attention encourages
the childs involvement in social interaction.
These strategies are useful for children who are deaf and totally
blind and/or who may not understand speech because of sensory
impairment or developmental level.
Tommy is playing with his hands. His mother gently touches the
back of his hands and imitates his movements so he can feel
it, which communicates, "I see you playing with your hands."
Juan is pulling bells on a mobile. His sister touches his fingers
and the bell, which communicates, "Lets play together."
Joanna is splashing in her bath. Her father puts his fingers
under her hands and splashes, which communicates, "Youre
splashing, thats fun!"
Derek is banging a drum. A friend places his hands right beside
Dereks so they are touching and bangs the drum, which
communicates, " That looks like fun, can I do it too?"
year old Alexis is feeling the vibration of the dishwasher.
Her mother puts her hand right beside Alexis so they are
touching, which communicates, "The dishwasher is on. Can
you feel it?"
Francisco is handling a large seashell. His teacher puts two
fingers slightly under Franciscos hand and feels the shell,
which communicates, "Wow, this is cool! It's bumpy."
Mai Ling is petting her dog. Her brother places his hand right
beside hers and pets the dog, which communicates, "Can
I pet Archie too? He is a good dog."
factors (e.g., age, physical and cognitive abilities, family
culture and experience) will influence a childs reaction
to attempts to engage him or her in mutual tactile attention.
tactile attention requires sensitive, non-disruptive, and
non-controlling touch that follows the childs lead by
focusing on what the child is doing.
tactile attention enables a communication partner to demonstrate
interest in what the child is doing in a way that the child
tactile attention can be used to expand the childs level
of participation in an activity by including additional actions
tactile attention provides a foundation for the development
of conversational turn taking.
tactile attention may be uncomfortable for the communication
partner and the receiver because of differences in their age,
gender, relationship, culture, and experiences.
use of touch that is selected poorly or used inappropriately
may startle, annoy, or confuse the child.
tactile attention may interrupt the childs focus on and
involvement with the activity.
the comunication partner is trying to communicate through mutual
tactile attention may not be clear to the child.
by using the type of touch that the child prefers and is the
least intrusive. For instance, if the child likes to play on
the slide and accepts the sides of his hands being touched,
then when he is sitting on the slide, put a hand beside his
and keep it there while he slides down. This could be communicating,
"I see you sliding. Looks like you like it a lot."
an object that the child likes and is handling. Slide a finger
under the childs fingers as if to say, "I see what
youre doing. Can I join you?"
the child has accepted your interaction and you are both engaged
in the activity, introduce slight changes (e.g., you are both
playing with play dough and poking your fingers in it, start
making "a snake" by rolling it out with your hand
right beside the childs hand so they are touching).
speech and/or tactile sign to name what you have touched or
careful not to control the childs movements
Tactile Attention is a synthesis of information from the
Project SALUTEs focus groups, National Advisory Committee,
staff activities, and a review of relevant literature such as
the following bibliography.