What the heck is Proprioceptive Dysfunction? Yeah, that was my first response, too. It is one of the many types of sensory processing disorders. This post's goal is to help you identify sensory processing symptoms and give you a bit of guidance with sensory processing treatment as it relates to proprioceptive dysfunction.
I am not a medical professional but, like you, I am a parent of a highly sensitive child. My sensory processing related research leads me to amazing resources that I absolutely must share with you.
Related Read: The Isolation of Raising a Challenging Child is Real
Sensory Processing Disorder
Let me give you a picture. My oldest son is a typically developing child. He is a sensory seeker. Proprioception is the sixth sense (not like the movie). It tells us about movement and position based on sensory input and feedback. So, if there is a little imbalance or out of sync factor with the body's proprioceptors (found in muscles), then the person will experience proprioceptive dysfunction. There are many levels and aspects to proprioceptive dysfunction. My son experiences a hyposensitivity to movement, which means that his vestibular system is under responsive.
To put a definition in every day terms, proprioception is the body's way of using muscles based on incoming information. There are actually proprioceptors in our muscles and joints that help regulate (or not) this sense. A child who always reaches out to touch the wall or things in his surroundings is seeking regulation. Make sense? I know. It is a bit tough to get the mind around the concept.
Think about it as body awareness.
Think about the ability to know where are body is in relationship to our surroundings.
What are signs of this type of dysfunction? Let me give you a few examples. My son jumps for hours, spins without getting dizzy (or so it seems), has trouble sitting still at the table or his desk, chews on everything, enjoys play dough, can't get enough of stress balls, loves hugs, reaches out to touch everything, grinds his teeth, and many more behaviors. Phew.
Will he be successful in life? Yes, I believe so. Will he be happy? I don't know. My job is to guide him along the way, to help his body develop in the ways it needs to develop unique to him. The many parts of a brain do not develop simultaneously. When a therapist explained sensory processing issues in this way, I finally got it. The pace at which the frontal lobe develops is different or not in sync with the pace of the other parts of the brain, for example. No wonder why sensory integration is an obstacle for so many people. When I find a new and exciting sensory integration tool that not only helps my sons but is also fun, how can I not share it with you all? My sensory seeker loves these tools.
Dynamic Movement BodySox ™
My son can't get enough of the body sock. My almost 7 year old sensory seeker watches movies in it, barely taking it off in time for bed. There is something remarkable about the bodysox. The BodySox is made of lycra. It stretches with the body and is breathable. You can place your whole body in the sox and move your body. My son watches movies in it. He uses it first thing in the morning. He loves it. The body sox comes in different sizes to fit your child's body.
The bouncy band is a gem that I discovered at my son's feeding therapy session. The Occupational Therapist offered a few suggestions to get us on the right track. One thing she suggested was always making sure something was under his feet when he sat at the dinner table, even if simply a box. So, I went researching and BAM, I found the Bouncy Band. His teacher loves the band and is buying more for her classroom.