Autism and the sixth sense – Steady on! July 07, 2015 14:29

Does your child move awkwardly and clumsily? Does he find it hard to pick things up? Or send food flying when he eats? Do the family pets avoid him? Does he slam doors and enjoy games in which he can push, pull or drag things around?

Such problems are linked to difficulties with proprioception (body awareness): sometimes called the sixth sense. This sense is so automatic that we are barely conscious of it and yet it is vital to our well being for it makes us feel safe and secure in our movements and actions.

Body sense enables us to orientate ourselves in space.  It lets us know where our arms and legs begin and end and where they are in relation to one another, allowing us to move without crashing into the things around us. It also helps us to know whether our bodies are moving or sitting still so that we can move around without having to look at our feet all the time and sit upright without keeling over.

This proprioceptive system also helps us judge how much force is needed to manipulate objects.  Without it even the simplest tasks can be problematic and make the child seem like that proverbial bull in a china shop because he is so clumsy and uncoordinated.  This is the child who complains that his glass of milk is really too heavy and cannot pick it up.  Or alternatively picks it up so forcefully that it flies across the room because it was lighter than he expected. The child whose food flies off in all directions as he eats. Whose writing is either so light that it is almost invisible or is extremely messy and full of marks that tear holes in the page. The child who unintentionally hurts the family pet because he is too forceful when he tries to stroke or play with it.

How does this fit with ASD? In her book Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed; Growing Up With Undiagnosed Autism Jeannie Davide-Rivera suggests that this is a major factor for some children. As she writes:

Children and adults with autism often have difficulty with proprioception and very well may just be the thing that goes bump in the night…and the day, and at work, and in the streets. Poor proprioception may likely be responsible for those many bruises, skinned knees, and torn stockings that plague our days.”

Body sense is involved in coordinating the muscles in the mouth too, and is vital to swallowing, eating and the ability to speak clearly: hence another reason for the speech difficulties that affect some children.

The herbal formula in both Fisheze and Spot can offer help with relaxation and focus while bringing a sense of calmness to children. Plus it's a great way to provide olfactory and proprioceptive stimulation.