From the moment my son Vman could walk, he would slam himself into me to give me hugs. While kids may run at you because they’re excited to see you, this was more… and it’s name was proprioception.
When Vman became an agile toddler, he would run at me full force and (rather than jump into my arms) he would slam his body into me at top speed. Although he was a toddler, he packed such a punch that it often felt like I had been slammed by an adult.
Some days Vman would literally tuck his head down and slam into my legs. There were many weeks where I had bruises exactly at the height of his head where he had slammed himself into me. As self defense, I started turning my body trying to distribute the blow among my body.
Even picking him up from preschool, he would run across the room to me picking up such speed (and not slowing down) that he could actually knock me off of my feet despite me bracing for impact. I felt like I was living with a professional football defensive tackle.
“Hugging” wasn’t the only place Vman was tough. He never seemed to have a soft switch. He was always full force physically, from running to playing to roughhousing. It just didn’t stop. When we brought his little brother home, I wasn’t sure Vman was ever going to understand the meaning of “soft.”
Once we figured out Vman had Sensory Processing Disorder, we began to learn about proprioception and the fact that he was hypo-sensitive to the cues his body was sending him.
What Is Proprioception?
Proprioception has to do with the body’s muscles and controlling them. For example, if I swing my arm, I’m able to tell how fast I am moving it and the force I’m putting behind it. A child who is hypo-sensitive doesn’t register the force behind their movements. So if my son went to tap my arm, he would actually slap it because his body didn’t register the amount of force behind his movements.
When Vman went to hug me, his body didn’t actually register that he was body slamming me. From his perspective, he was using just the right amount of force to reach me and connect with me.
Here is a video I love that helps explain what the proprioceptive system does:
Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviors
As part of Sensory Processing Disorder Month, a number of fellow sensory bloggers are writing about the sensory issues behind many everyday kid behaviors. I encourage you to read other posts by visiting the Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviors page. And be sure to grab this free printable: 100 Sensory Activities for Home and School.
If you have a kiddo that is hypo-sensitive proprioceptive, check out the following affiliate product links, which can help your child get the sensory seeking activities he or she needs: