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In the Interoceptive System, What Challenges May Be Faced By Those Who Are Under-Responsive?

Megan Paben, MOT, OTR/L, ASDCS

December 15, 2023

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Question

In the interoceptive system, what challenges may be faced by those who are under-responsive?

Answer

The interoceptive system is responsible for an individual's awareness of internal bodily sensations, and when someone is under-responsive in this system, they may face several challenges. Under-responsiveness in the interoceptive system often leads to a reduced ability to interpret internal bodily sensations and identify their significance. This can have far-reaching effects on an individual's well-being and daily life.

One of the significant challenges faced by those who are under-responsive to the interoceptive system is difficulty in recognizing internal sensations related to basic needs. For example, they may not readily perceive sensations of hunger, thirst, or the need to use the bathroom. As a result, these individuals may not respond to these bodily cues, which can lead to issues related to health and well-being. For instance, not recognizing the sensation of hunger may result in inadequate nutrition, and ignoring the need to use the bathroom could lead to discomfort or even health problems.

In addition, individuals with under-responsiveness in the interoceptive system may struggle with identifying temperature changes, such as feeling too hot or too cold. This can be particularly challenging in extreme weather conditions, where not perceiving temperature-related discomfort can lead to health risks.

Furthermore, a lack of awareness of pain is a common challenge faced by those who are under-responsive in this sensory system. Not recognizing when they are experiencing pain or discomfort can be problematic, as it may lead to injuries or worsened health conditions.

Overall, understanding the challenges related to under-responsiveness in the interoceptive system is essential for providing appropriate support and accommodations to help individuals with this sensory profile better manage their basic needs and overall well-being.

 

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Employing Verbal De-Escalation Strategies In Occupational Therapy, by Megan Paben. 


megan paben

Megan Paben, MOT, OTR/L, ASDCS

Megan Paben received her master’s degree in occupational therapy at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2007. Megan began her career as a school therapist in rural Nebraska, serving several small schools. After two years in the school setting, Megan transitioned into an outpatient pediatric clinic working with a variety of different diagnoses, and worked as the marketing coordinator.  After a couple of years, Megan took over the manager position within the medical clinic. During this time, she worked in a school within the community as well as working with the adult population clinic that was connected to her medical clinic. In 2018, Megan and her family relocated to Colorado, where she is an occupational therapist for a growing school district.  In her current position, Megan is the lead motor staff member. She serves 5 center-based classrooms for social communication as well as affective needs. Megan is a Crisis Prevention Intervention trainer for her district and an Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinical Specialist. 


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