Friday, November 4, 2016

Promoting Body Awareness

Perception of the body, known as body awareness is needed to do everyday activities and to perform complex skills. Proprioception yields information about "the relative position of the body parts to each other, the position of the body in space, the body's movement, and the nature of objects that the body comes into contact with" (Haywood, p. 200). 

This is done through receptors from our muscles and joints sending information to our brain about what our body parts are doing. This tends to be calming and organizing for the child's body which will help them perform a task at a more organized level. Therefore, it is important as health care providers to promote this with our children who may be lacking in this performance area. 

Who can benefit? Everyone! However, it is especially used for children with sensory processing disorders, children with autism, and anyone else that is having trouble regulating where there body is in space (knocking into things while walking, clumsy, etc.)or is in need of promoting calming behaviors. 
Therefore, to active the receptors of muscles and joints, heavy work is encouraged in Occupational Therapy to encourage moving against resistance for the muscles/joints to feel the deep pressure from the activity. 
Some examples to promote body awareness: 
  • Labeling body parts with a child (e.g. "where is your nose? Where are your hands?") 
    • To make it more challenging, have the child close their eyes and tell you!
    • Play "Simon Says!" 
  • Encouraging spatial dimensions such as up and down, front and back, side to side. 
    • Placing toys in front of them, to the side of them, or behind them 
  • Heavy work: pushing, pulling toys/objects 
  • Sit on a scooter board and use hands and feet to move around 
  • Roll therapy ball over child 
  • Squeezing fun toys 
    • I've used bubble wrap and that is a hit! 
    • Pulling apart playdoh 
  • Pouring water/rice into large containers 
  • Pulling/pushing wagons, anything with wheels 
  • Have the child move objects for you! (pillows, chairs, balls, toys) 
  • Jumping (on one foot, trampoline, hopscotch)
  • Any type of climbing, running, skipping 
  • Bear hugs 

Haywood, Kathleen M., and Nancy Getchell. Life Span Motor Development. 5th ed., Champaign, Human Kinetics, IL, pp. 200-02. 

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