In the final post in our series about the sensory system we’re discussing possibly the least well known but extremely important sense of interoception. All eight senses (yes, eight!) when working together and functioning properly promote a sense of well-being.
Interoception, especially, works closely with vestibular and proprioceptive senses to maintain emotional balance, create a mind/body connection and help a person process physical needs. Interoceptive cues are the body’s physical symptoms for making a connection to the feeling of hunger, thirst, needing to use the bathroom and even fear and anxiety.
Like any other sense interoception takes time to develop fully, children progress with it at different rates and some have more difficulty with certain cues than others.
Creating a sensory development-friendly environment will help develop interoception along with the other seven senses.
Calm Down Corner
Everyone needs a chance to calm down when senses get overstimulated. Including just a few things in a specific area of your home can help children regulate senses and emotions.
Items to include:
- Sensory bottles or bags
- Light spinners
- Heavy pillows
- Stress balls
- Headphones with soothing music
- Beanbag chair
- Box of objects with different textures and weights
- Teething toys
Tips for Sensory Integration
- Include some sensory play on a daily basis.
- Have some of the items listed above easily accessible.
- Label emotions and physical interoceptive cues. (Example: You seem anxious. Your eyebrows are down and you are breathing faster.)
- Take note of situations that seem overstimulating.
Development of all eight senses through play does not have to be complicated, time-consuming or expensive. Many everyday indoor and outdoor activities provide the sensory stimulation children need to understand their bodies and their environments.
Children are natural scientists and explorers conducting experiments on their surroundings to gain knowledge. With a little thoughtful preparation of the environment they will see, hear, touch, taste, smell and sense everything their bodies need to know to develop into well-rounded and intelligent people.
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Amy is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and writer. She loves sharing what she knows about family, play and early learning. When she’s not at her computer you can find her spending family time, organizing or decorating her home, reading a good self-help book or pretending she knows how to cook but she usually leaves that to her awesome husband!