The proprioceptive system is input received through receptors in the joints and muscles with movement and heavy work. When these receptors are activated, body awareness is improved and the person knows where his/her body is in space. Children who tend to crave proprioceptive input:
- may overstuff their mouth with food;
- tend to give hard high fives,
- color with so much pressure the crayon breaks, or
- crash into things.
Other children may hold a pencil so light that you can barely see it, or the pencil won’t stay in their hand.
They also may have poor body awareness and bump into things, or have a low tolerance to pain and cry at even the slightest bump.
When your child appears to be craving proprioceptive input, provide them with some heavy work activities and combine with other types of input.
Heavy Work Ideas for Home
The following 13 proprioceptive input ideas can be used at home and other locations:
- Baskets filled with toys or books
- Groceries, not the bread or the eggs
- Pushups against a wall
3. Weighted Options
- Fun and Function’s Blue Weighted Compression Vest, only wear it for 20 minutes and then take it off. Put it back on again if needed after waiting at least 20 minutes.
- Weight belts
- Wrist weights
4. Yard Work
- Watering the flowers
6. Chewy Candy Breaks
There are lots of chewy candy options that take a while to chomp and don’t get stuck on furniture. Be cautious of too much sugar and make sure children brush their teeth.
7. Jump & Crash
8. Sucking Though a Straw
- Thick Smoothie
9. Animal Walks
- Crab walk
- Bear walk
- Army crawl
10. Heavy Blankets
- Heavy quilts at night
- Weighted blanket
- Weighted Lap Pad
- Paddy the Weighted Platypus
- Ensure the child can pull these off themselves if needed.
- Dive after Weighted Dive Sticks thrown into pool.
12. “Hot Dog” Game
- Have the child lie across the end of a blanket
- Roll the child in the blanket like a hot dog
- Squish the child with pillows or a crash pad
13. Johnny Sandwich
- Have your child lie on a crash pad, or mattress or blanket.
- Ask what they like on their sandwich and squish their arms, hands, legs, feet, gently their head and face while pretending to put mayonnaise, mustard, turkey and cheese or peanut butter and jelly all over their body.
- Then ask where else do you need jelly? And have them tell you where their body is craving more deep pressure.
- Make sure to press evenly and not too hard to injure the child.
Heavy Work Ideas for School
The following seven ideas are for use at school. There are a few ideas listed above that could also be used at school.
- Place chairs on desks at end of day
- Take chairs down at beginning of the day
15. Classroom Chores
- Erase the chalkboard
- Wash the dry erase board
- Clean the desks
16. Weighted Backpack
- When walking from class to class
- Parents can put a notebook, book, or books, depending on the size for the child, into their backpack each day for the ride or walk to school.
- Be careful not to put more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight in the backpack
- Be cautious of low back pain and if this is a concern, try other things
17. Something to Kick
- Tie theraband around the front legs of a chair that the child can kick with his legs
- Also, consider tying theraband to legs of desk
18. Push It
- Push the lunch cart
- Carry the lunch bin to the cafeteria
- Push the library cart
19. Add Beanbags
- Use beanbag chairs in the classroom
- Allow children to use them during silent reading time
- Lie over or under them during independent work tasks
- Offers a change in position and the benefit of consistent pressure input
20. Pinching Allowed
- Prior to seat work, have child pinch, roll, pull Theraputty
- Hand exercisers,
- Pinch or roll balloons filled with flour
- Give child firm pressure on shoulders
Implement any number of these proprioceptive input ideas and you will discover a more regulated child ready to attend to the task at hand.