What may sensory seeking behaviours look like?
A child may underreact to sensory input= seek out more input.
- Biting/chewing on objects or clothes
- Stopping feet when walking
- Make loud noises
- Hyperextension of joints
- Holding objects with excessive pressure (eg. Tight pencil grip)
- Enjoys rough play and impact to their body
- Walks on tips toes
What may sensory avoiding behaviours look like?
A child may overreact to sensory input= overwhelmed and may avoid the input.
- Picky eating
- Avoid physical contact (eg. hugging)
- Startled by unexpected sounds or light
- Avoid different textured clothing (eg. “itchy” or tight clothing)
- Has trouble knowing where their body is in relation to other people or objects
Types of sensory input:
What is the Proprioceptive System?
- The proprioceptive system is located in our muscles and joints.
- It provides us with body awareness and senses and controls the pressure and force of our body.
- This system is important for our sensory processing and responding to sensory stimuli.
How does the Proprioceptive system impact my child?
- It can be very calming for those who are sensitive to sensory stimulation (Children who show behaviours of sensory avoiding).
- It can help increase attention and alertness for those who are seeking sensory stimulation. (Children who show behaviours of sensory seeking).
- Proprioceptive input can help a child to regulate their emotional and behavioural responses to external sensory stimulation.
Proprioceptive activities to try at home or in the classroom:
- Heavy work/ deep pressure to the body (jumping, crawling, rolling, pushing, pulling, hugging)
- Weighted blanket (to apply pressure to the body during activities to increase alertness or to calm behaviour and emotion)
- Lifting/ carrying objects (eg. Carrying the watering can to water plants, moving furniture, carrying the groceries)
- Increasing breathing rate (running, jumping on the trampoline, swinging)
- Oral motor activities (chewing, blowing bubbles, sucking from a straw)
- Sensory avoiders are oversensitive to sensory input.
- Sensory seekers are under sensitive to sensory input.
- Some kids may show a combination over sensory avoiding and seeking behaviours.
- Identify your child’s triggers and some enjoyable, and engaging activities to support them – your OT can help you find ways to support your child!
- Middletown Centre for Autism. Proprioceptive. Middletown: Sensory Processing Resource, 2019.