Proprioceptive. Now that’s a big one. Most spell checks don’t even recognize it. What does that mean?
Well, our proprioceptive system is located in our muscles and joints. Its what gives us our awareness of being pushed, pulled and squished – essentially the parts of our nervous system that detect force and pressure.
It’s also an important part of sensory diets. Proprioceptive activites can help people who are overloaded sensory-wise to find relief – it can also be a way for sensory seekers to help focus and concentrate on the task at hand.
The great thing about proprioceptive tools is that you probably already have some at home or can find some way to incorporate it into your routine should you have that sensory need. It can be as easy as getting under a weighted blanket or as involved as exercising by pushing a wall or doing handstands.
My son is big on proprioceptive pressure. He is always grabbing my weights (which I also find some comfort in when I exercise), putting himself under tons of blankets or pushing on things. I myself used to keep myself hidden under the big heavy comforters at my Memaw’s house or hang upside down on the couch. I was proprioceptively regulating myself without even knowing it.
Many companies and Etsy shops offer weighted blankets, body socks, squishy chairs or even therapy swings (my wife loved her yoga swing until my children killed it) that can be used as sensory tools. So the next time you feel that need to stretch when you’re overloaded or you can’t just sit still, think of proprioceptive functions and how you can use them to regulate yourself or help another autistic person understand how it can help them.
Your actual autistic makerfriend,