When children become familiar with themselves and their surrounding environment, they’ll eventually make discoveries. For instance, a sense of smell will help children differentiate aromas. Additionally, bitterness, saltiness, and sweetness will become apparent due to their sense of taste. However, because of its uncommon nature, I want to share the following human sense: interoception.
Regardless of the subject, it’s possible to develop awareness through experience. In the same token, a lack of experience is what likely keeps us unaware of information.
By applying this line of rationale between adulthood and childhood, adults will have a lengthier life experience. Through this experience, adults should develop a greater understanding across a variety of topics.
On the other hand, children will have less life experience, so this likely leads to a lower degree of familiarity.
For this reason, it’s not only crucial to help children recognize their senses, but it’s also necessary. So, what is interoception, and how does it relate to your children?
Interoception is what helps you become alert of what’s occurring inside your body. As an example, whenever the sensation of hunger arrives, interceptors in the body will tell you that it’s time to eat.
Speaking of interceptors, these sensory nerve receptors will first accept stimuli from within the body. After accepting stimuli, your receptors will then respond accordingly. Because these receptors are located all throughout the body in places like our muscles, organs, and bones, communication within the body is important.
Before you ask why communication is so imperative, the answer is simple: the brain relies on these signals to take action. If there’s any interruption in this process of communication, we’re unlikely to know how we should feel, how to act in a given situation, etc.
To better understand this discussion, let’s apply a few examples. Whenever you know that you’re sore because of physical discomfort, agitated because of poor customer service, or happy because of a comforting hug, this is a sign of high interoceptive awareness.
Unfortunately, although this is your norm, there are many children experiencing the opposite. In particular, children with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, will struggle with understanding what they’re feeling.
You see, whenever the body emits signals, the brain will respond accordingly, and you’ll eventually become aware of what your body is telling you. With ADHD, autism, and other disorders though, children cannot make this connection, thus impeding them from expressing themselves.
So, what do you think is a possible outcome for someone who doesn’t understand his or her own body and emotions? This individual will experience confusion, frustration, sadness, anger, etc.
Therefore, when you perceive that your child is having a meltdown just for the sake of acting out, this can actually undermine the challenges, which this child is facing internally.
As we become mindful of life’s many challenges, it’s not enough to discuss the existence of these trials. On the contrary, we must also discuss ways to mitigate them. With that in mind, how can I help when your child encounters interoception challenges?
First, it’s important and perfectly okay to admit that you don’t understand what your child is facing. After all, your child doesn’t understand as well. Additionally, as long as there’s a commitment to understand their struggles, you’ll have me to help along the way.
Because each child will have specific challenges, customized treatment is necessary. Along with sensory stimulation, children will discover how to recognize body signals, what these signals mean, and how to respond accordingly.
As we incorporate sensory activities daily, the process will open the door for bodily awareness. Eventually, your child will develop a better connection with their interoceptive system.
Remember, as children become aware of different bodily sensations and what the sensations mean, they’ll communicate more effectively.
At Occupational Therapy Concept, You’re Family. For a Free consultation, give me a
call at (718) 285-0884 for further evaluation and customized help for interoception.