Day 8 – Making Sense of Proprioception

Since I covered sense number six (vestibular) yesterday it only makes sense to cover proprioception today. This may be one of the most difficult words I have ever had to pronounce. When I give presentations to audiences, I think I say it five different ways – hoping that one of them comes out right.

So what is proprioception? It is the process by which the body can vary muscle contraction in immediate response to incoming information regarding external forces. Proprioception and kinesthesia, the sensation of joint motion and acceleration, are the sensory feedback mechanisms for motor control and posture. These mechanisms along with the vestibular system…helps the body keep oriented and balanced, are unconsciously utilized by the brain to provide a constant influx of sensory information. The brain can then send out immediate and unconscious adjustments to the muscles and joints in order to achieve movement and balance. (

Okay, so now what does that really mean? It short, it means Tucker has difficult gauging his own strength. He provides too much or not enough and can’t really register the difference.

Tucker seems to do everything with too much force. When he goes down the stairs, it sounds like they will break into a million pieces (this also has other ‘roots’ we’ll talk about at another time). When he shuts a door, it shakes the house. When he slaps you on the back, you may feel like he’s giving you the Heimlich.

He will pick up a glass or a can to take a drink and it looks as if he is about to smash his own face in. He often sends liquid flying or spills it because he lifts with such force. Because of his proprioceptive difficulties he simply cannot navigate the amount of strength needed to complete an action.

I have no answers, other than patience – which you will find is a common theme in nearly all of these posts.  Patience because I recognize that he can’t do much to change.  We’ve tried several things to help him. The only thing that seems to help is to remind him to slow down. If I can get him to slow down and look at the glass, he can gauge by the liquid left inside. However, this is one reason why he often spills his can of soda-he can’t see through to see the amount of liquid. Just another reason for messy shirts…

Patience when he spills.

Patience when he drops.

Patience at ruined t-shirts.

Patience when people look.

Patience because of proprioceptive.

Most of all, patience because of love…


7 thoughts on “Day 8 – Making Sense of Proprioception

  1. Pingback: Day #37 – Water in California | 366 Days of Autism

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