Recently, the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities published research comparing responses to verbal versus tactile requests in children with congenital blindness, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For trial one, requests were given verbally. For trial 2, tactile requests were given. The results indicated the following:
1. All students perceived tactile symbols to be explicit requests to perform the act referred to by the symbols.
2. The children seldom or never followed verbal requests.
3. All children followed more tactile than verbal requests.
The researchers concluded that thee availability of tactile symbols for individuals with congenital blindness, intellectual disability and ASD seems to increase their level of activity and their participation in school.
Here are 10 examples of tactile symbols instead of visual picture symbols that may have meaning during therapy sessions:
1. Fork or spoon for eating instead of "hungry" or "lunch"
2. Cup for drinking for "thirsty"
3. Small ball for catching and throwing
4. Weights for exercise
5. Rope for swing requesting to use swing
6. Play dough for clay activities
7. Rice for sensory boxes
8. Vibrating toys
9. Stretchy fabric for mini trampoline
10. Quiet maraca for calming music.
Reference: Aasen, G et al. Enhancing activity by means of tactile symbols- A study of a heterogeneous group of pupils with congenital blindness, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. doi: 10.1177/1744629514522142 Journal of Intellectual Disabilities March 2014 vol. 18 no. 1 61-75