Hyposensitivity to toniception

What is Hyposensitivity to toniception ?
IN BRIEF

Hyposensitivity to toniception is when a person is less able to feel the contraction and stretching of their muscles. This makes it more likely for the person to break objects, hurt people unintentionally or have difficulty feeling pain. Autistic people have hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities more often, but people without any particular developmental diagnosis can also have these conditions.

What is toniceptive hypo-sensitivity?

Toniceptive hyposensitivity is a sensory difference in which the person is less able to feel their tendons and muscles contract and stretch. Muscular pressure and tension are more difficult for them to understand and master.

The consequences of muscular hyposensitivity

It’s much harder for the person to control the amount of force they use because they are less able to perceive it. The brain can’t interpret the signals that allow the person to feel what’s happening when they force with their muscles. This can lead to injury, and the person is more likely to break objects, be clumsy or hurt others when they had no intention of doing so. Also, people who are hyposensitive to toniception will often have difficulty perceiving pain. Understanding where the body is in space and maintaining balance are two other things that can also be affected by this condition.

Symptoms of toniceptive hyposensitivity

Scenario

Liam hurts his friends during dodgeball. They all complain about his lack of respect. As Liam has been warned many times about this, he is removed from the game and punished. But he's just hyposensitive. We can't let Liam hurt others, but we can help him. It won't work to just tell him to throw softer, since he can't feel his strength. You could instead tell Liam that, given his great strength, he has a choice: either he can be required to throw from the back of the field only, or he can be taught to throw the ball downwards, so that it lands on his opponents' feet. In any case, punishing Liam for something he hasn't yet learned to control can be detrimental.

What measures should be taken in the event of tonic hypersensitivity?

We can train the brain to better feel the contraction and stretching of muscles and tendons.

What can help muscles and tendons feel better?

There are a number of easy-to-implement things you can do to help ensure safety.

Sensory therapy

Occupational therapists are trained to help people with these kinds of challenges, and can offer sensory therapy. They can also suggest do-it-yourself exercises.

Exercise recommended by an occupational therapist (in French)

Sensory stimulation

There are a number of tools, games and techniques that can improve perception.

Sport

Most physical activities can stimulate the senses, but some are particularly effective for training how to accurately feel the contraction and stretching of muscles and tendons.

Visual support

Photos or videos can help to develop understanding of how the body works. Mirrors can also be used to allow the person to observe posture, force applied, muscle contraction and more.

Valérie Jessica Laporte

WRITER SPECIALIZING IN AUTISM (FRENCH)