Talkative's Occupational Therapist, Abbey Douglass, defines, explains and provides tips on how to help with Sensory Seeking, Sensory Avoiding and the Proprioceptive System.


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:

  • Sight
  • Smell
  • Sound
  • Taste
  • Touch


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)


Key points:

  • 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.
Family Meals… How to Get Started!
July 21, 2019
Here are six brilliant tips from our Speech Pathologist, Abbey Avery, on how to make family mealtimes enjoyable for everyone!
Occupational Therapy: What to expect…
July 27, 2019
Talkative Allied Health Services' Occupational Therapist (OT), Abbey Douglass, unpacks what you can expect when you visit an OT.
It Takes Two to Talk
August 28, 2020
The ‘It Takes Two to Talk’ Program: Together we will create and achieve personalised goals for your child’s communication.