Last year our staff engaged in professional learning in the area of Interoception. After trialling this we found it to have many benefits for our students. We will be implementing interoception activities a minimum of 2 x day after recess and lunch.
What is Interoception?
- Interoception is our 8th sense. Interoception is understanding and recognising all of the signals that happen inside our bodies.
Interoceptive awareness (IA) can be broadly defined as the conscious perception of internal bodily cues such as heartbeat and breathing and is related to emotional experiences.
Interoception is atypical in individuals on the autism spectrum as well as in others with a range of mental/physical health issues.
Children/students who are yet to or still developing their sense of interoception may not know how to feel their pulse or heart rate. If they can learn to do so, they can monitor it and use it as a guide for some of their emotions.
For example, they may find that when their heart rate is up and they have not exercised, it is a signal to engage in an interoception activity and this may prevent rage from building uncontrollably.
Department for Education research indicates that the act of interoception – noticing aspects of one’s body:
Within 8-10 weeks
- decreases heart rate during the interoception activity
- decreases externalising challenging behaviours
- increases engagement in learning
- increases prosocial behaviours – kindness, connections to others
Over 16+ weeks
- Decreases stress
- Can help manage anxiety
- Promotes caring and empathy
Interoception is beneficial to everyone as illustrated in the diagram:
Students are guided through the science of the brain and how it works. This helps them to establish a clearer understanding of their emotions and enabling them to access develop’ interoception activities when needed.
Students learn and understand:
FLIPPING OUR LID:
- When something triggers us to react, the thinking cap of the brain can lift up and now we are feeling our big emotion/big body signals. Our thinking is no longer controlling our actions
- When we start to feel our body signals about to “flip our lid” – we can do Interoception activities!
- Interoception activities helps to bring the thinking cap of our brain back down and activates our calming nervous system.
- (When we start to feel angry, it can feel like a volcano which is about to erupt. Interoception can stop the volcano from exploding!)
Interoception activities can be any activity using:
- Your muscles
- Your breathing
- Your body temperature
- Your pulse
Interoception activities always follow the same structure.
- Complete the activity for the first time.
- Where in your body did you notice it?
- -Repeat the same activity and focus on a particular body part.
- –After completing the activity the second time, where did you notice it?
*TO BUILD OUR INTEROCEPTION AWARENESS, WE NEED TO NOTICE A CHANGE IN OUR BODILY STATE*