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What Are The Three Hidden Senses?

Britt Collins-Feist, MS, OTR/L

July 2, 2021



What are the three hidden senses?


The 3 Hidden Senses

  • Vestibular – governs balance, where your head is in space, and how fast you are moving
  • Proprioception- input to the muscles and joints that tells us where our bodies are in space
  • Interoception- a sense of internal organs

We have what I call our three "hidden" senses. These are vestibular, proprioception, and interoception. It may be hard for parents to understand these three hidden senses. I try to use examples of what this might look like in their home.

The Vestibular System.

  • The vestibular system is governed by your inner ear and tells us where our heads are in space, whether right side up or upside down.
  • It tells us how fast we are moving and helps with the balance and coordination of both sides of the body.
  • It influences muscle tone, posture, and coordination between eye movements and head movements.

The vestibular system influences muscle tone, posture, and coordination between eye and head movements. We may see kids that have visual perceptual or tracking issues. Obviously, this can be a part of the visual system, but it is also highly correlated to the vestibular system and the inner ear. I like to ask questions like, "Did they have a lot of ear infections when they were a kid?" "Did they have any medical procedures or surgeries?" I try to get a lot of that background to make sure that I am covering my bases and identifying any red flags.

The Proprioceptive System.

  • The proprioceptive system is the input to our muscles and joints during heavy work. It tells us information about movement, position, and force exerted by muscles and joints.
  • Tells where your body is in space

The proprioception system is input to the muscles and joints and informs us about movement, position, and where our body is in space. You may see a child navigate through a busy environment and bump into things, or they appear clumsy. These behaviors may result from a motor issue, or they may be due to decreased body awareness. 

Interoception- 8th System.

  • Internal temperature
  • The feeling of hunger/fullness
  • Do I have to use the bathroom?
  • Am I tired?
  • Does my stomach hurt?
  • Check out Cara Koscinski’s latest book

Interoception is the eighth sensory system. Am I hungry? Am I full? Am I hot? Am I cold? How am I feeling about that internal sense of self? There are several different resources out there about interoception. I love Cara Koscinski's book. She is the Pocket OT. She is a friend of mine, and I love her stuff.

britt collins feist

Britt Collins-Feist, MS, OTR/L

Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Britt Collins, graduated from Colorado State University. She has worked tirelessly on OT and Sensory Integration awareness, research and application.  Britt has worked in a variety of settings including pediatric hospital inpatient, ICU, rehabilitation, outpatient clinics, homes, schools and skilled nursing facilities.  With her award-winning OT book series, "Sensory Parenting: Newborns to Toddlers, Sensory Parenting: The Elementary Years," and her latest book “Sensory Yoga for Kids: Therapeutic Movement for Children of all Abilities” she's among the cutting-edge leaders in the field.  Britt's first children's book, "My Special Brother Bo" released on 2/14/19.
Currently, Britt resides outside of Memphis, TN.  For more information on Britt, please visit www.sensoryparenting.com and www.sensoryyogaforkids.com

Related Courses

Foundations for School Readiness: Sensory Regulation and Yoga (Day 1)
Presented by Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L


Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L
Course: #3841Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Good examples'   Read Reviews
This course will provide you tips and tools to integrate sensory regulation, yoga and mindfulness into the classroom for children of all abilities.

A Sensory Approach to Potty Training
Presented by Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L


Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L
Course: #4109Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'All the intervention examples'   Read Reviews
A Sensory Approach to Potty Training will define the 8 sensory processing systems and how they relate to potty training. This course will offer strategies to help create a plan for potty training a child with special needs.

A Sensory Approach to Home
Presented by Britt Collins-Feist, MS, OTR/L


Britt Collins-Feist, MS, OTR/L
Course: #5064Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'details about diferent kinds of sensory issues'   Read Reviews
This course provides the participants with sensory strategies including yoga and mindfulness activities to help create home-based therapy ideas for their families. You will learn about sensory regulation and modulation and how to build sensory strategies into a child’s everyday life.

Foundations for School Readiness: Visual and Fine Motor Skills (Day 2)
Presented by Emily Dassow, OTR/L


Emily Dassow, OTR/L
Course: #3842Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'I liked that the presenter provided treatment ideas'   Read Reviews
Participants will learn how fine motor and visual motor skills and development affect students' ability to access curriculum. Practical strategies and treatment interventions will be presented to improve students' function in academic related tasks.

Foundations for School Readiness: Executive Functioning in the Classroom (Day 3)
Presented by Cara Koscinski, MOT, OTR/L


Cara Koscinski, MOT, OTR/L
Course: #3843Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'This course brought executive functioning skills to tactile and concrete form and function for the OT practitioner'   Read Reviews
We use executive function skills to manage tasks we complete every day. They help us to decide what to pay attention to as well as help us to manage emotions and regulate behavior. This course helps therapists to understand executive function and learn activities to help children to succeed in the classroom.

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