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Body awareness ... What is it and why is it so important?

Note: This is a follow up to a more in-depth article about clumsiness

Do you get reports from your child’s teacher that they can’t sit still, focus or pay attention in school? Is your child having trouble meeting their developmental milestones?

Do they fall down a lot, invade people’s personal space, appear to be uncoordinated or like to fit themselves into small spaces?

If any of this sounds like your child, it may not be clumsiness or a problem with attention, they may actually struggle with poor body awareness or the ability to understand where their body is in space or relative to other people and things.

Body awareness is a combination of our proprioceptive and vestibular sensory systems, the sixth and seventh senses. It’s important for almost every new skill your child will learn - feeding themselves, writing, using scissors and even learning a new sport.

This is something that we can work with your child on in occupational therapy but here are some things you can also work with them on at home:

  1. Play games that involve a child naming or moving a certain body part like “Simon says”, “ Twister,” doing yoga or dancing to the Hokey Pokey.

  2. Any sort of heavy weight bearing activity that gives their muscles and joints information about how their arms, legs, head and trunk move. Jumping up and down, using resistance bands, pushing a shopping cart with a lot of heavy items in it, carrying around anything heavy or doing animal crawls.

  3. Play mirror mirror with your child. Stand in front of them, do different poses with them and see if they can copy your movements.

  4. Work on their balance by having them stand one on foot or making a pretend balance beam for them to walk across.

  5. Having them help around the house by mopping floors, carrying the laundry basket or changing the sheets.

If your child doesn’t seem to be making any progress, we can help. We have large and small sensory gym with many different types of swings, weighted animals, a ball pit, hammocks plus various games and activities we do with children who struggle with this.

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