27 Jul What is Interoception?
Most people are familiar with the five basic senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. In therapy, parents typically learn about the vestibular and proprioception senses, which respectively relate to understanding movement in space and the feeling within joints. Now, more and more therapists are introducing interoception as the eighth sense. You may be asking yourself what it is and why it is important. Let’s dive into the subject.
The 8th Sense
Interoception is a sense that helps us to understand what is going on inside the body. This can include feelings of pain, temperature, hunger, thirst, digestion, elimination, heart rate and more. Receptors in various organs send message to the brain and communicate these feelings inside the body. Children that have difficulty with the processing of this information can also have trouble with self-regulation as a result as well.
Like the other senses, a person can have a hypersensitive or hyposensitive response to interoceptive input. If a child is hypersensitive, they can overreact to sensations. This can present like using the bathroom more than usual. If a child is under-responsive, they may not react to sensations at all. This can present like having more frequent toileting accidents.
How to Help
Experts are learning new ways to help children as more research and techniques are introduced to the public. Some suggestions include improving mindfulness and other sensory based exercises to help to improve body awareness and sensory processing skills. There are also many other suggestions offered in the book Interoception: How I Feel by the Pocket OT, occupational therapist Cara Koscinski. You can learn more about the book and other tips in her interview with Playapy.