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Types of Sensory Resources To Help With Proprioceptive Input Development

Types of Sensory Resources To Help With Proprioceptive Input Development

For parents, teachers and medical professionals who support children with special needs, resources that are able to foster unique development, are invaluable. At the top of these helpful resources? Sensory Resources. Sensory resources encourage children to interact with and make sense of the world around them, develop problem solving, creativity, memory, emotion regulation and motor skills. 

Specifically, we are going to explore the proprioceptive sensory system and resources and activities that offer proprioceptive input. 

What is a child’s Proprioceptive Input?

While most people know the five main senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell), proprioception is less known. Proprioception is our senses that gives us information about where our body is, the force we apply when moving, and what our body is doing in space. This feedback helps us coordinate, balance, and develop motor skills; allowing us to move freely and naturally, with full control of our body. Just as the eyes are the organ for sight, proprioceptors in our muscles and joints give us proprioceptive input to let us know how our body is moving. Each time we change positions, move around or stretch, we are sending proprioceptive input to the brain. Proprioceptive input is calming to the central nervous system and therefore plays an important role in regulation. 

While moving your body will offer proprioceptive input, this input is amplified when resistance is involved. Heavy work is commonly the term used to describe activities that provide the body with proprioceptive feedback. Heavy work includes activities that provide the body with resistance. Think pulling, pushing, or carrying weighted objects. 

Resources recommended below encourage engagement in heavy work activities. Additional resources recommended are weighted products. A note on weighted products; these products target the tactile sensory system; specifically deep pressure touch. This is because they come in contact with the skin (tactile system), rather than proprioceptors (in the muscles and joints). Weighted products provide heavy work (proprioceptive input) when movement occurs under a weighted product, for example crawling under a weighted blanket. 

Let’s explore proprioceptive resources that can help with your child’s development!

Effective Sensory Resources for Proprioceptive Development

Pulling / Pushing / hanging 

Adding activities that involve heavy work into their daily routine is a good way to develop proprioceptive input. Scooter boards, elastic rope, tug-o-war rope, rock climbing, ninja warrior course and fidget chair bands all offer pulling / pushing /hanging movements. 

Lifting Activities: Building Strength and Stability

Adding activities that involve heavy work into their daily routine is a good way to develop proprioceptive input. This assists children to understand their body better and plan movements. It is recommended to use weighted objects from 5-10% of a child's body weight.  Weighted objects available at the OT Store include weighted animals, weighted exercise balls, weighted lap pads and weighted blankets. An activity such as an obstacle course is also a great way to encourage children to lift as they set up and pack up the course. 

Chewable Sensory Tools: Oral Proprioceptive Stimulation

Now, children who like to put things in their mouths can easily benefit from one kind of sensory resource-- chewables. Chewable necklaces, bracelets, or chewy tubes provide heavy work for the muscles of the mouth; therefore providing proprioceptive input.

Besides helping with sensory needs, these tools can also be used quietly to help kids stay focused in different places.

Weighted Blankets: A Hug-like Sensory Experience

A really popular sensory resource that provides proprioception is a weighted blanket. These blankets are made to give a nice, cosy hug feeling because they're heavier but not too heavy that we register its weight as a burden. As mentioned above, these provide feedback to the tactile system, however when we move under them, the resistance will activate the proprioceptive system. 

Brushing, lycra products and squashing: Tactile Stimulation for Proprioceptive Awareness

As with weighted products, brushing, “squashing” (for example under pillows) and lycra products (such as body socks) activate the tactile system as they come in contact with the touch receptors on the skin. These are commonly considered under the umbrella of “heavy work” as they aim to achieve the same effect; a calming, organising impact on the central nervous system. For this reason, we will include recommendations here; body socks, lycra tunnels, sensory swing and tactile brush. As with weighted blankets; movement under products such as tunnels activate the proprioceptive system and are a great addition to a sensory diet. 

Among the many sensory resources out there, prioritising exposing your child to resources that help with  proprioceptive input are really important for meeting their sensory needs. Whether it's heavy work, chewables, lycra products or weighted products, each type of resource helps with sensory integration and feeling good overall. When children use a mix of these proprioceptive resources, it supports development in foundation skills including regulation, motor skills, emotion regulation and cognition.

Ready to Enter the World of Sensory Resources? 

If you’re a parent in need of the right kind of tools to help with your child’s development, then you’ve come to the right place. We practise all that we have stated above in the creation and selling of all our resources making sure that aiding child development be our top priority.

See our list of NDIS-approved resources here, or if you want to search for more resources, we might have them on our website. Enjoy your shopping at The OT Store!

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