The TACTimat series is inspired by a previous artwork by Laura A Dima titled "The Finger Rub Rug", and it is designed for educational and therapeutic purposes for children with special needs. This can be: multiply disabled children, children with syndromes or sensory process disorders, children on the autistic spectrum or toddlers with developmental delays. It can be used both in special schools and medical day-care centres by their daily educators and caretakers, as well as in therapeutic settings.
With specific exercises or assignments, these kids can be educated in their mobility; they can learn to fall, crawl, rollover, stand up or keep their balance. Moreover, for these specific kids, sensory stimulation is very important and it can aid them to improve their focus and self-awareness. Through both the exciting design of the mat - which challenges the children to explore - as well as through deep pressure – which is applied by laying down on it – children are aided in developing their proprioception and body awareness.
For children with sensory process disorders, it can be used to either activate or relax the child, which can be very useful in educational settings. For under-stimulated children, it can enhance the alertness by playfully discovering its versatility. For overstimulated children, on the other hand, it can be used to induce relaxation. Laying in it will activate the touch sensors and apply deep pressure, allowing for relaxation and accepting and experiencing the tactile stimulus. While this is not always possible in a classroom, a smaller version can be used on the edge of a child’s table and serve as an energy outlet, much like a stress ball would do.
Lastly, as this mat was initially designed as an art piece and introduces new, exciting and colourful shapes, patterns and senses, it can be used to educate kids on art. While art is, to the majority of kids, boring and dull, this interactive piece can be touched and discovered as if it were a new world of possibilities.
- Technical Design by Amy den Dekker
- Physiotherapist: Rita van de Sande
- Intermediary art and science: Kikki de Laat