Exercise 103 Improving Your Tactile Discernment

Would you be aware of a tick crawling up your arm or a mosquito alighting on your arm? Some people are very touch sensitive. Others are not, but everyone can improve their touch sensitivity. The sense of touch is often overlooked as a source of communication, and yet to the blind, braille has proven to be an invaluable aid in conveying the written word. Braille consists of a code of 63 characters, each made up of one to six raised dot-like bumps arranged in a 6-position matrix or "cell." It has become the universal system of writing and reading for the blind.

This exercise gives you practice in transferring your conscious awareness to your fingertips. Using a pair of dice and without looking at them, discern the number on each side of a die with your fingertips alone. Do the same with various dominoes. Is your left hand or right hand better at discernment? Even though right-handed blind students read better using the center finger of their left hand, they are taught to read braille by using the left index finger for the first half of the written line and the right index finger for the remaining half. Could some sighted, touch-inclined students perform better in school if they were taught to read braille textbooks?

Using wooden blocks with letters and numbers, discern all the letters and numbers blindfolded, first with your right, then with your left hand. Have an assistant put various household items in a paper bag for you to handle and identify by touch alone. Using first the right, then the left hand, which is better?

Put flour, salt, sugar, sawdust, cornmeal, sand, etc. into various dishes and feel their consistency without looking at them. Take a small handful of dried peas or beans and by touch alone, determine the number. Now look to see how many there are and close your hand and get the 'feel' of that number in your mind. Do this until it becomes easy. Soon you'll be able to touch the coins in your pocket and identify their denomination, the head from the tail and maybe even discern the date of each coin!

While blindfolded, hold and feel 3 different figurines of the same approximate size for feature determination. Describe each one as best as you can to yourself. See if the fingers of your left or right hand are more discerning. Afterwards take off your blindfold and look at them. Put your blindfold back on and mix up the figurines. Then feel them again for better feature determination. Do the same with 6 different small plastic animals, and 6 different animal cookies. Next, determine the diameter differences, and arrange in their correct order 6 different gauge nails from 1 to 6.

Use the non-pointed end of a pencil or pen and draw numbers, letters and geomet ric designs on a partner's back while his or her eyes are closed. Choose first the left then the right area of the back. Write some letters sideways, upside down and mirror-wise to determine the easiest manner of perception.

Some blind individuals can sculpt, play the piano and even bowl! Blindfold yourself for an hour and feel your way around a room, experiencing what everything is like to the touch. Feel the face of a friend or relative and note their features. Soon you'll establish a better appreciation of the tactile world -- even without a blindfold. More attention to detail in your environment will also be established.

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