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How many senses do we have?

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Most of us are aware the the five basic senses. Hearing, Taste, Touch, Sight and Smell. But there's another 3 that most of probably haven't heard of.



Proprioception.

also known as kinesthesia. Our ability to know where parts of our body are in time and space in respect to our environment. It’s how we know that our arm is up without the need to look at it, being able to kick a ball without looking at our foot. This is a learned sense that is developed over time, and some of us are just naturally better at this than others, some of take more practice.


Some simple activities that can help support the development of this sense can include games that involve pushing and pulling, activities like push ups, crawling and climbing. Jumping on a trampoline or playing with a ball, practicing kicking, throwing and catching. And my personal favourite.....cuddles!



Vestibular.

This is our bodies internal balance system, it’s how we remain upright while walking, helps us when learning to ride a bike and helps some kids do cartwheels. We are using our vestibular system when we practice yoga, in poses when we have one leg off the ground, yet we don’t fall over (well, some of us at least – I’m working on this one)



Some activities we can do with our children to support their development of this sense could include simple balance games, walking along a balance beam (can be a line in the ground to follow) or stepping stones. Practice standing on one foot, or even find a YouTube video with some basic yoga for kids.

If your child is really struggling to find their balance, you may want to consider if there could be a medical reason underlying, such as inner ear or visual issues. Seek medical advice if you have any concerns



Interoception

This sense is the one that tells us what we feel inside our bodies. It is the ability to know where a pain is located in our body and describe how it feels, it’s the ability to know when we need to go to the toilet, know that we feel hungry or thirsty, hot or cold.



According to research, a lot is still unknown about this sense in relation to supporting children who struggle with this sense. It may be linked to a few of the common sensory related concerns for our children who are autistic, such as later than socially "normal" toilet training, children not feeling the heat or the cold and demanding/insisting on wearing non weather appropriate clothing.

Some research does suggest that mindfulness and meditation may be beneficial. This is a rather challenging one, when how could be possibly know how another human being is feeling? My approach in teaching this is to be very open and verbal about how you're feeling on the inside, this may at least give them some language around those unusual things going on inside their own bodies.



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