Tactile System Integration
Skin, our largest organ, forms the boundary between our physical being and the outside world. It also houses the tactile system, which allows the body to access tactile sensations from the outside world. The skin possesses eleven different tactile receptors to distinguish the broad array of tactile stimuli input encountered by the body. This set of tactile receptors help to inform and prioritize incoming sensory information for the central nervous system to process. Once processed, the central nervous system directs the body’s actions in response to ever-changing tactile conditions. For a number of reasons (Link to What Causes Reflex Dysfunction), tactile system challenges can result causing any one of the following conditions.
- Hyper-sensitive Tactile System – Also referred to as tactile defensiveness, this results in a negative, over-reaction to
touch that typically would not be a problem. A person with a hyper-sensitive tactile system will often respond negatively
to hugs, having their hair brushed or nails clipped, and complain about various textures, seams, tags and avoid wearing
any form fitting clothes. A simple skin scrape can elicit a reaction expected for a far more debilitating wound.
- Hypo-sensitive Tactile System – A person with a hypo-sensitive tactile system often does not respond to tactile input that
would cause most people to act. A deep cut, a hard push, or other forms of physical harm lead to little or no reaction.
Tactile input important to taking action and avoiding harm, is often missed by a person with a hypo-sensitive tactile
system, leaving them at risk for great harm. People with hypo-sensitive tactile systems often seeking more intense
sensory stimulation in an effort to register sensation.
- Non-Functioning Tactile System – A non-functioning tactile system is simply not working.
The reactions of a person with either a hyper- or hypo-sensitive tactile systems, often seem bigger or smaller than normal conditions would dictate. Such, disproportionate reactions, therefore, are often an indication that an individual’s tactile system is not appropriately engaged and integrated. The MNRI Tactile Integration program uses neuro-tactile techniques to stimulate different receptors in the skin, working to appropriately engage and integrate the tactile sensory system within the complete mind/body system. When the tactile system is integrated, the brain stem relaxes defensive reflexes and opens the entire system to an experience of safety in which emotion and behavioral regulation improves and healthy motor, communication, and cognitive development can proceed.
We encourage parents and professionals interested in learning more about the MNRI Method and its various programs to attend this course early on, given the fundamental role it plays in emotional and behavioral regulation, and overall maturation and development. The Tactile Integration course explores in great detail the physiology and psychology of the tactile system, the developmental effects of over- and under-sensitive receptors, and the importance of an appropriately integrated tactile system to the process of integrating all motor reflex movement and patterns. Listed below are the four basic techniques used as part of the MNRI Tactile Integration Program to address various tactile challenges.
|Lengthening and Sweeping||Infinity Eight Stimulation||Rotation||Stroking|