In case you missed the first part of this series, be sure to read up on What is Sensory Processing?
What is Proprioceptive Processing?
Proprioceptive sensory processing is the brains understanding and interpreting of where our bodies are positioned in space. This process happens when our brain receives input from our muscles and joints and tells us how and where our body can move. Our proprioceptive system is often referred to as our sixth sense because it is our body’s ability to sense itself, which in turn, increases our body awareness. Proprioceptive processing plays a very important role in managing sensory information as it helps control bodily responses to sensory stimuli.
Kiddos who are over-responsive to proprioceptive input might appear to be overly cautious with their bodies and their movement. You might notice over-responsive individuals lack confidence in attempting new physical activities, like trying the monkey bars or gymnastics. It’s common for those with proprioceptive sensitivity to be fearful of unexpected changes in position and may prefer to just sit still. Kids with proprioceptive sensitivity might appear to be lazy, when in actuality they are likely just nervous to participate in physical movement activities, as their spacial awareness is not high.
On the other hand, those who are under-responsive to proprioceptive input tend to show signs in two ways; difficulty grading movement and seeking proprioceptive input. Children who have difficulty grading movement often use too much or too little strength. This might look like, not knowing the difference between “heavy” and “light”, over-estimating the weight of a glass of juice and spill contents, difficulty with holding a pencil, writing, and even erasing too lightly or too rough. When proprioceptive under-responders seek input you might notice them moving frequently, taking climbing risks, bumping into objects or even falling frequently.
Strategies for Over-responsive
For over-responders, our MeBe OTs recommend deep pressure activities like…
- Bear hugs
- Squishes with exercise ball or pillows
- Weighted materials
- Compression clothing
Strategies for Under-responsive
Heavy work activities makes for an active resistance against the body, which is sometimes preferred by proprioceptive under-responders.
- Walking or running
- Crashing onto pillows
- Pushing toys in a laundry basket
- Carrying heavy items
- Practicing animal walks
- Obstacle courses
Stay tuned for our next blog article which will be discussing Vestibular sensory processing.
MeBe Occupational Therapy Services
To learn more about Sensory Processing, watch the recorded MeBe Learning Webinar, All About Sensory Processing.