In layman’s term our proprioceptive system refers to our body’s components of muscles, joints and tendons that provide us with an awareness of our body’s position in space. It also promotes self-regulation and can be very calming, regulating, and organizing for the brain and nervous system.
In our “risk-management” adult service system, who are sued often, have learned to spell out exactly what risk they will accept and what they won’t even at the cost of an individual’s health and happiness. It’s out of the need to protect both the adult with autism as well as the care provider. So for example when a person with autism seeks hugs, kicks the wall, paces, etc., we can and need to find functional, risk safe activities to meet the needs.
One person’s proprioceptive need can and should live happily within the service systems “risk-management” obligation. First, we need to understand what are the proprioceptive needs of the individual, joint compressions, traction, deep pressure, and head/neck compression and incorporate in their daily activities opportunities to address those needs. In addition, opportunities for the adult to request “PRN” proprioceptive supports are necessary.
It is important to identify proprioceptive sensory needs for job development and ideal employment conditions. We want to make sure that the environment and tasks meet the individual’s proprioceptive (and other sensory) needs. For example a young man who walks and paces will do well in an environment that movement is acceptable, if not necessary; pushing carts, moving materials, etc. The best way to meet proprioceptive needs is to make it functional and practical for the worker, not an addition to their daily work.