What is Proprioception and Why is it Important?
Proprioception is the body’s ability to receive input through receptors in the skin, muscles and joints, and transfer the information to the brain through the nervous system so that the body can sense itself. To put it simply, proprioception is the sense that tells the body where it is in space. Proprioception is very important to the brain as it plays a big role in self-regulation, coordination, posture, body awareness, the ability to attend and focus, and speech. Many children with sensory processing disorders, Autism, and ADHD struggle with one or more of the areas listed above because of their body is not processing the proprioceptive input effectively. Signs of proprioceptive dysfunction or under-registration include:
- Poor Motor Planning/Coordination & Poor Body Awareness (difficulty understanding personal space or understanding boundaries when playing with others, presents with delay in gross and fine motor skills, bumps into people and objects frequently, difficulty riding a bike, difficulty going up and down stairs, difficulty with speech)
- Poor Self-Regulation Skills (emotional, difficulty attending to task, mood swings, frequent meltdowns, difficulty with sleep)
- Sensory Seeking Behaviors (plays rough, taps or shakes feet while sitting, chews, bites, likes tight clothes, pushes or hits others, writes too hard)
- Poor Postural Control (slouches, rests head on desk while working, leans on everything, poor muscle tone, unable to balance on one foot)
Children that have difficulty sensing or processing proprioception often try to self-regulate by engaging in activities and/or behaviors that provide intense or frequent proprioceptive input. Proprioceptive dysfunction can be addressed and improved by Occupational Therapy through the use of sensory integration and developing a healthy sensory diet. If your child has difficulty with sensory processing or demonstrates difficulty with any of the above signs, contact Sonoran Sun Pediatric Therapy to schedule a free Occupational Therapy screening.