Proprioception

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Excerpt from Sensory Incompatibility written August   2010..

Proprioception-Knowing where we are in space

. . . And some kids have less, they react slower to pain stimuli, you want them to hug less tight, run less and wiggle less, but in fact they need more.  These are kids who proprioception sense needs to know it is still part of the game, not to be forgotten at circle time, and can be the deciding factor when danger presents itself, think extreme sports!  Their sensory systems get bored easily and crave stimulation, this is a Sensory Seeker and you’d know one if you met one, though they may only stay still when sleeping.

And some kids have less, they react slower to pain stimuli, you want them to hug less tight, run less and wiggle less, but in fact they need more.  These are kids whose proprioception sense needs to know it is still part of the game, not to be forgotten at circle time, and can be the deciding factor when danger presents itself, think extreme sports!  Their sensory systems get bored easily and crave stimulation, this is a Sensory Seeker and you’d know one if you met one, though they may only stay still when sleeping.

Proprioception is a common word for Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapists.  When you injure a knee, for example, at PT will focus your therapy on proprioception.  While you have been told you are strengthening your knee and supporting muscles, your PT knows you must also strengthen the communication of your internal knee nerves and those that keep you balanced.  The really cool thing about these nerves is that they don’t need a command center, they don’t need to communicate everything to the brain.  They are somewhat self contained, a feedback system that is constantly tweaking to keep a joint functioning and supporting its task, like walking.  If your proprioception is working well, you can usually raise your hands above your head and touch each index finger to each other, without looking.  You may be off by a few centimeters, but you are close.  Your brain gave the task to your muscles and with fine precision, the muscles and joints executed the task and you were amazed.

Children with proprioception processing disorders are the kids who could not pass a road side sobriety test.  Their nerve communication is misjudging information, over or under correcting, firing to quick or too slow.  This can make handwriting an arduous tasks, frustration for the child attempting it, and frustration for anyone trying to read it.  Sports that require a lot of eye-hand coordination will be a challenge.  Judging where the table meets the class when setting your drink down, clumsy is not the right word; sensory incompatibility is the true meaning.  Their brain is giving signals for action, the execution is off.

Even though there is little feedback from these nerves to the brain, what information that is given tends to needs more feedback.  While most people are satisfied with a gentle hug, these kids need a tight squeeze compressing joints and muscles.  The high fives will be painful to their buddies and they ofter come close to injuring themselves to ‘feel alive’.  Some children contort themselves or pick odd positions while doing seated work or even watching TV.  Their choice of clothing could be turtle necks, tight fitting clothes my may have outgrown, or shoes laced tight on their feet.  They will do anything to meet their needs, to scratch those internal itches.

To read more about the seven senses click here . . .


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