The proprioceptive system refers to components of muscles, joints, and tendons that provide a person with a subconscious awareness of body position.

When proprioception is functioning efficiently, an individual’s body position is automatically adjusted in different situations; for example, the proprioceptive system is responsible for providing the body with the necessary signals to allow us to sit properly in a chair and to step off a curb smoothly. It also allows us to manipulate objects using fine motor movements, such as writing with a pencil, using a spoon to drink soup, and buttoning one’s shirt. Some children can have a difficult time registering proprioceptive information and they may excessively seek it out.

Possible Signs of Proprioceptive processing deficits:

  • Clumsiness
  • A tendency to fall
  • Minimal crawling when young or difficulty crawling
  • Difficulty manipulating small objects (buttons, snaps),
  • Eating in a sloppy manner
  • Resistance to new motor movement activities
  • Constantly jumping, crashing, and stomping
  • Loves to be squished and get “bear hugs”
  • Prefers tight clothing, loves rough-housing, may be aggressive with other children
  • Bumps into things often
  • Moves in a stiff and/or uncoordinated way
  • Doesn’t know how hard to push on an object
  • Misjudges the weight of an object
  • Breaks objects often
  • Rips paper when erasing pencil marks
  • May tire easily