The Key to Interoceptive Awareness
What is Interoception?
Interception allows us to interpret the things going on inside our bodies. Understanding how we feel helps us take the appropriate actions to manage the different emotions those feelings create.
Our interoceptive awareness recognizes internal sensations like hunger, thirst, tiredness, digestion, or heart rate—but that’s not all Interoception plays a role in emotional regulation, social-emotional understanding, empathy, self-awareness, problem-solving, and perspective-taking.
We’ve gathered some steps and tools that can be done to improve interoception awareness with your students in the classroom or at home with your children.
Why you should teach interoception awareness.
Folks with well-developed interoception use logic and emotions to respond in certain environments, without these skills, it's difficult to heavily lean on logic and have to carefully think through their possible responses in each situation.
This isn’t sustainable long-term. It can be tiring and leads to overload, shutdown, meltdowns, anxiety, and depression. Teaching interoception skills help youth:
- Connect to and learn to understand their bodies and emotions
- Develop a sense of belonging
- Decrease in behavioral challenges - leading to better coping skills when dealing with an overload or shutdowns
As with other sensory systems, the interoceptive system can be impacted in autistic folks. Two research studies have examined the interoceptive experience and found that they had significantly lower awareness of their interoceptive signals. This is why adults need to educate youth on interoception, awareness, and its impact on everyday life.
What are the stages of interoceptive awareness?
A great place to start is helping people identify interoception. These 5 stages are a starting point to proactively identify and begin to develop a sense of awareness.
- Noticing - Notice that something different is happening, a feeling or emotion
- Name association - Describing the occurrence, how they feel, where it is, etc.
- Attaching feelings - Attach how you feel in the moment to the interoceptive sensation
- Understanding impact - Combine interoceptive sensations with forward-thinking, planning, and reflection
- Managing - Use your interoceptive awareness to take action
For instance, if your child has no appetite, they’ll under eat leading to a lack of nutrition, or overeating because they can’t process the sensation of feeling full, making themselves sick.
What does interoception influence?
Our interoception systems impact many skill areas, self-regulation being at the top of that list. Self-regulation is the foundation of interoception, it’s the ability to manage our emotions. Other important areas that are directly related to interoception are:
- Self Awareness
- Flexibility of Thought
- Social Understanding
- Perspective Taking
Our team is aware that interoception varies across people, and awareness may or may not be challenging for some—but being prepared and being able to identify strategies that can help your students understand the importance of awareness is crucial.
Social Cipher strives to empower neurodivergent youth and professionals to grow, play, and learn toward social-emotional success and self-advocacy through our game series.
Interested in getting Ava for your therapy center or school for engaging, empowering social-emotional learning? Schedule a chat with us!