Body Awareness Child-WalkingWhat is Body Awareness?

Body awareness is the internal understanding of where the body is in space. Body awareness is highly influenced by proprioceptive processing, the sensory information one receives from the movement and force of muscles and joint groups. Body awareness helps one orient his or her body to their surrounding environment and helps them navigate through that environment. It is also related to one’s understanding of directionality and overall spatial orientation.

What are the symptoms of decreased body awareness?

  • Children who have poor body awareness may have a difficult time in functioning at a certain age level due to the subsequent difficulty that they may have when learning new tasks.
  • Many will prefer to be in small rooms, confined spaces, forts, or under blankets as opposed to wide open spaces because it makes them feel more secure, because they have a better understanding of where they are in space.
  • Children with decreased body awareness oftentimes do not like to be in the dark or do not like to close their eyes. In order to make up for the fact that he or she has poor body awareness, these children may rely on their sense of vision to determine where they are in space. Without the help of their visual sense, they may not fully recognize where they are in space or time.
  • Children with decreased body awareness may enjoy and seek out big bear hugs. Due to their decreased processing of proprioceptive information, children may prefer to be squeezed tightly because it gives a lot of input to their joints and muscles.
  • These children may also have difficulty mimicking movements, such as hand games or licking lips. When someone else shows them something they want the child to imitate, a child with poor body awareness may not understand how to move their body in the same way because they have a harder time understanding where their body parts are and how much to move them. These movement patterns are even harder to get the hang of, when they’re new or unfamiliar to the child.
  • Overall, children with decreased body awareness may appear to be clumsy and trip over objects or on their own feet because they are less aware of where their body parts are in space.

If I see symptoms, what do I do?

If you observe your child having difficulty with the above tasks and activities, an occupational therapy evaluation may be warranted. Throughout OT sessions, your child will improve their ability to process the feeling of movement to their joints and muscles. In order to learn new tasks, compensatory strategies can be used to help children keep up with their peers, such as using visual cues to assist in learning new activities or breaking down tasks to make them simpler until they have mastered those skills.

What will NSPT do?

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our therapists work with children with visual perceptual difficulties by using a multisensory approach. We provide your child additional sensory experiences to help them better understand the demands movement patterns. Our therapists engage children in various activities that incorporate movement, tactile, visual, and auditory sensations to enhance body awareness. In addition, our therapists are trained to alter your child’s environment and/or his activities in order to make your child as successful as possible.