Rough or Soft?

By Activity Bank on Jul 01, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Vickie Brennan, Flo Ryu, and Dennis Lolli and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

When trying to encourage students who have some amount of vision to use it, it’s helpful to have reinforcers: positive activities or items that incent the student to use the vision they have. Tactile stimulation is one such reinforcer. This activity will help teachers discover which tactile sensations produce a positive response in the student. Lessons include Orientation and Mobility.


  • Rough fabric
  • Cotton
  • Feathers
  • Hairbrush
  • Wool
  • Lotion


  • The adult rubs different textured materials on the student’s arm, stopping five seconds in between the presentation of various textures.
  • The student will show a preference for the activity by smiling or laughing, and/or by gesturing or moving toward the item with her hand or body as it is slowly moved away from the student.
  • Absence of a positive response, or showing a negative response, indicates the item is not useful for this particular student.


Try rubbing textures on different parts of the student’s arms or legs, or provide hand-over-hand assistance for the student to rub her fingertips over the surface of individual textures. Vary the pressure applied with each texture.

Hints: Reinforcers can be assessed by bringing the student in contact with a variety of textures in natural settings, such as bathing or dressing. Cease the activity if the student shows distress, such as pulling away from the activity.



Read more about: Orientation and Mobility