Proprioception is the sense that provides awareness of our body’s position in space. Our body processes this information by receiving input through our joints and muscles. Our bodies are then able to grade and coordinate movements based on the way muscles move, stretch, and contract. Instinctively, we know that lifting a cotton ball requires very little pressure and effort, while moving a large couch requires more work. Proprioceptive input also allows us to know where our body is in space and the amount of force/pressure required of our muscles to complete everyday tasks.
Signs of difficulty with proprioceptive processing:
● Appear clumsy
● Fidget when asked to sit quietly
● Over-stuff their mouth when feeding
● Show an increased activity level or arousal level
● Seek intense proprioceptive input by “crashing and bashing” into anything
● Breaking pencils down so hard that they break or rip the paper
● Frequently falling
● Slap their feet when walking
● Flap hands
● Poor body awareness
● Falls out of chair
● Constantly on the go, can’t sit still
If your child is a sensory seeker, make sure that he or she gets proprioceptive input throughout the day, as deep pressure input can help organize and regulate a child’s body making them attentive and ready to learn!
Some quick examples of proprioceptive input include: animal walks, yoga poses, supervised rough housing, and pillow fights.
Carissa Jannicelli Pampanin, MS, OTR/L, SIPT practices occupational therapy for children in Cedar Grove, NJ.