Auditory & Tactile

This is part two of a series where I am sharing everything I know on the subject of sensory needs, gleaned from my experience as a Special Needs parent. To start at the beginning, click here to go to Part 1.

Auditory (Hearing)

Photo by jonas mohamadi from Pexels

If someone is under-responsive to auditory input, they may appear to be “in their own world” at times, and accused of not paying attention, when truly, they didn’t hear what was being said, or have not yet processed what was said. This could be thought of as an online video that is “buffering”. It’s working on it… just give it a second to catch up! To accommodate someone who is under-responsive to sound, remember to make sure you have their attention before speaking to them and be patient if asked to repeat yourself.

If someone has an aversion/over-responsiveness to noise, they may become distraught or even appear to “shut down” in noisy environments, finding it difficult to think and communicate clearly. Ways to be considerate of this is to consider the type of background music or noise (avoid loud rock music, for instance), and to reduce volume as much as possible. Provide hearing protection in all work environments.

If someone is auditory-seeking, they will enjoy sounds, and may seek out repetitive sounds.(Or make their own by rhythmically drumming/tapping on objects.) They may be very passionate about music.

Things that May Help Auditory Over-Responsiveness/Aversions:

  • Hearing Protection Ear Muffs
    Ear muffs that reduce decibels aren’t just helpful for operating power tools! They now come in adult, youth, child, and infant sizing and a range of colors/designs. Some are integrated with Bluetooth, so they can be worn to reduce outside noise while on the phone or listening to music/podcasts/audiobooks.
Pictured Product: 3M Kids Hearing Protection
  • Loop, Flair, or Calmer In-Ear Noise Reduction Aids
    These devices work like reverse hearing aids. They “turn down” the volume you are hearing instead of “turning it up.” They are worn in the ear like a hearing aid, and filter out noise/reduce decibels.
Pictured Product: LectroFan
This is my personal favorite/recommendation
  • “Sensory Shopping” hours at commercial locations, where stores lower their lights, turn off the music, and refrain from noisy announcements of the speaker system.

Things that May Help Auditory Sensory-Seekers:

Public/Educational Settings:

  • Background Music
  • Sound Therapy Items
Pictured Product: Music & Sound Wall & Floor Panel by
  • Vibroacoustic Therapy Items
    Many people think of sound only in terms of hearing, but sound can also be experienced as vibration. Vibroacoustic Therapy products help users experience the vibration of sound waves with less noise.
Pictured Product: Vibroacoustic Contour Chair by
  • Percussion Instruments
    Take a “body break” with sound and rhythm. A fun way is by teaching a class how to play a song with “Boomwhackers

  • Fidget Toys
    Some fidget toys have a sound component including Pop-Its, Pop Tubes & Wacky Tracks

Pictured Products: Push Pop Food, Pop Toobs, Pop It Fidget Pack, Poppin Pipes

At Home:

  • Favorite Music
    Keep the iPod charged!
  • Decibel-Controlled Headphones
    To prevent hearing loss from turning the volume up too loudly
  • Noisy Toys/Games/Musical Instruments
  • Dreampad Pillow
    Vibroacoustic therapy for home use at a more affordable price.

Tactile (Touch)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

If someone is under-responsive to touch, they may appear to be clumsy or have poor handwriting, as a result of not receiving enough “feedback” from items in their hands.

If someone has an aversion/oversensitivity to touch, they may be extra-sensitive to textures and physical affection. They may be uncomfortable with hugs, handshakes, or other physical touch. They may be very particular about the clothing they wear, opting to be “comfortable” at all times. They may have a sensory-based feeding disorder that limits the types of foods they can tolerate eating due to how the different textures feel in their mouth.

If someone is tactile-seeking, they may be extra-affectionate, struggle with “look, don’t touch” rules, and enjoy working with their hands. They may also be “chewers,” chewing on things they shouldn’t, or biting people for no apparent reason (not as a result of a temper tantrum/anger, but rather trying to put other people’s hands in their mouths, etc…).

Things that May Help Tactile Under-Responsiveness:

Public/Educational Settings:

  • Tactile Discrimination Activities
    Activities designed to practice differentiating between textures and shapes

Pictured Products: Feel It and Describe it Box, Textured Sensory Mittens, Large Liquid Floor Tile,
Tactile Terrain Sensory Panel by*

At Home:

  • Tactile Discrimination Toys
  • Homemade Tactile Discrimination Toys/Activities
    Pinterest has a wealth of of DIY tutorials for making sensory products at home that won’t blow the budget, such as sensory bins, textured pillows, “sensory walks,” etc…
  • Gloves
    When handling fragile objects, gloves with “grips” may prove useful

Things that May Help Tactile Over-Responsiveness/Aversions:

  • Tagless Clothing, Very Soft Clothing, Athletic Wear
    Old Navy has a great line of shirts for children called their “Ultrasoft” T’s. They are both tagless and incredibly gentle and soft. My son loves them!***
  • Feeding Therapy & consultations with a Dietician if eating is an issue.

Things that May Help Tactile Sensory-Seekers:

Public/Educational Settings:

*Fidget Pillows or Lap Pads
Something to keep on their lap to touch and feel while trying to sit and concentrate at a desk or story circle

Pictured Product: Fidget Pillow
  • Fidget Toys
    For the same reason, a collection of varied fidget toys is a great addition to any classroom (be it school, Sunday School, or clubs) or waiting room (be it a teacher’s office, or a dentist/optometrist office). Amazon has begun selling variety boxes that take the guesswork out of which toys to try.
Pictured Product: 32-Pack Sensory Fidget Toys
  • Sensory Break Room
    Larger and more permanent tactile activities are a great addition to a break room for children of all types of sensory needs

Pictured Products: Massage Module Game Mat, Liquid Fusion Play Center

At Home:

  • Sensory Bins, Playdough, Slime, etc…
    Once again, Pinterest is your friend here. The crafty moms and bloggers of Pinterest-land have thousands of tutorials ready for you. The same sensory activities that you would use to help an under-responsive child will also soothe, satisfy, and delight a sensory-seeking child.
  • “Mermaid” Products
    Mermaid fabric (sequined fabric that can be brushed up and down with your hand) is very popular, with good reason. These products are very fun to pet and touch.

Pictured Products: Mermaid Sequin Pillow, Flip Sequin Stuffed Dinosaur

  • Fidget Toys
    A variety box is a good way to start, but you will soon find that your child has a preference. Stock up on these ones, and keep one in your purse, one in the car, one in their backpack, etc… They can be lifesavers!
Pictured Product: My son’s current favorite is 3D Pin Art
  • Chewlery
    Chewers definitely benefit from having something to chew on other than their own hands or shirt-sleeves! It can also cut down on biting incidents in preschool, which I can confidently say that we all want, amiright?

    “Chewlery” comes in a variety of sizes (for little-big mouths) and levels of firmness (soft-hard). It is recommended that you go with the softest one your chewer can enjoy, to prevent damage to the jaw/teeth, however, aggressive chewers will require more firm chews. (My son bit clean through some of his first chews. I remember he once went through $80 worth of chewlery in a week! Thank goodness we finally found something that worked for him!)

    Our top two favorite chewlery brands are Ark (particularly their “brick sticks”) and Zilla Chu Buddy

Pictured Products: Ark Brick Stick, Zilla Chu Buddy Clip-On by

And there you have it! That’s Auditory & Tactile. Subscribe to my blog to get notified of next week’s installment: Gustatory & Olfactory.

© 2022 Ashley Lilley – First time commenting? Please read my Comment Policy.

Disclosure: No affiliations here! While this page may contain links to products, I am not an affiliate or ambassador for any brand. I do not receive commission or kickback of any kind for recommending products. Just sharing stuff I love, and hope it helps someone. If you wish to support my blog in some way, please consider following me on social media and sharing my links with your friends. -Ashley

4 thoughts on “Sensory 101 (Pt 2 of 4)

  1. I’m a 21 year old female, recently diagnosed with ASD. I feel like some of these things could have helped me when I was a kid. Any suggestions for adult-type sensory items?


    1. Hi Charlotte, there are more and more options coming out every day in adult-size, which is great. I think the medical world and therapy providers are noticing that there are lots of young adults looking for answers and getting themselves diagnosed later in life. Good for you for focusing on your health!

      It’s hard to suggest stuff without knowing your specific sensory needs, so I suggest taking a look at the whole series, to figure out which senses you struggle with, and if you are over-sensitive to them or a “seeker”. Then you’ll know what to look out for.

      Best of luck!


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