SPD Information Symptoms Impact on the Senses

Impact on the Senses

Interoception - The Sense of Internal Organ Function

Overview of the Interoceptive sense

Interoception is a relatively unheard of sensory system. It is the sense responsible for detecting internal regulation responses, such as respiration, hunger, heart rate, and the need for digestive elimination. It is detected through nerve endings lining the respiratory and digestive mucous membranes. It completes the internal picture of how the human body is perceived, along with the vestibular and proprioceptive senses.

If interoception is well modulated, these sensations will be detected normally, and will not be overly agitating or needed in large quantities for regulation. A pounding heartbeat won't feel great, but it won't be traumatizing and it won't be craved. The same is true for hunger and thirst, as well as the feeling of the need to urinate or have a bowel movement.

Interoceptive Defensiveness

For those who are hypersensitive to interoceptive input, these sensations can be irritating and distracting. A pounding heartbeat might be overly painful or inspire fear. Hunger pains might be intense and cause a person to eat more often than usual to avoid the feeling. They may also use the restroom frequently to avoid painful bowel and bladder sensations, or they may withhold from using the bathroom, as the removal process itself is painful. These feelings may also last longer than they would for most people.

Interoceptive Under-Responsiveness

If a person is under-responsive to interoception, they may not feel or respond to these sensations appropriately, quickly enough, or at all. They may rarely feel themselves breathing or their hearts beating. They may not feel hungry or thirsty often, so they may not perform these everyday tasks as often as others because they do not sense the need to. They will often be slow potty trainers and may end up developing enuresis because they do not feel the need to eliminate bowel waste or urine before the body begins to perform the task anyway. They may not breathe or sweat when their bodies should because they do not feel the need to. They also are commonly diagnosable for interoceptive discrimination dysfunction, as well.

Interoceptive Seeking

Sensory seekers may crave interoceptive input. One of the reasons they need to keep moving is that they may also be seeking a pounding or racing heartbeat, as well as a fast rate of respiration. They may frequently take large, deep breaths. Hunger and thirst sensations might actually feel good, causing them to not desire to eat or drink, not wanting the feeling to go away. This can also lead to withholding bowel and bladder waste, as the sensation of needing to eliminate them may be craved.

Interoceptive Discrimination Disorder

For those who suffer from an Interoceptive Discrimination Disorder, determining what their body needs at any given moment can be quite a challenge. Often, they have difficulty interpreting their own body signals. They may not be able to determine just how hungry or thirsty they are. They may only feel a slight need to use the restroom, when in fact, the matter is urgent! They will have difficulty in knowing when they are feeling better or worse, warmer or colder, and tired or energetic. They simply can't make sense out of what their bodies are telling them.