Frequently Asked Questions About Interoception
Hi, I’m Kelly Mahler, Occupational Therapist. We want to take the time to break down some of the most frequently asked questions we get from you; our readers, followers, and supporters. This is an important one because it will not only give us the chance to answer some of your most popular, burning questions, but it will also be an opportunity for us to hear from you. As we go through these questions and topics, we want to encourage conversation and not only provide answers, but hear your ideas as well. While we’ll be answering questions on a wide variety of topics, some of the most frequent ones we hear asked about are toileting, practical implementation, interoception assessment, and our resources.
Toileting is one of the topics we are asked about the most. First, it is important to mention that toileting is an incredibly complex process that involves many, many different factors. One of these factors, which is quite possibly the most overlooked, is interoception. Interoception provides us with internal clues to our bowel and bladder needs. The interoceptive sensations coming from our body lets us know we need to pee or poop and sets us into action—getting us to the nearest toilet in a timely fashion. Many people can experience a breakdown in their interoception processes. For example, perhaps someone is not noticing a feeling of a full bladder so they are missing that urge to get to the toilet, or perhaps they only notice the feeling of needing to poop when it is an emergency feeling resulting in fast dashes to the nearest toilet hoping to make it on time, or perhaps they feel bladder sensations in a big way and even the slightest filling of the bladder has them running to the toilet on a frequent basis. So many possibilities, making interoception a very important consideration when supporting toileting needs. One thing is for sure…no amount of external reinforcers will help someone become more connected with their internal signals…we need validating and kind interoception supports for that.
For more on toileting, feel free to check out our blog and our on-demand course on the topic.
Practical Implementation as a Parent
As a parent, there is a lot we can do to help with our child’s interoception growth. One thing we can do is use body talk to share how your body is feeling and express that your body signals are important clues for regulation. For example, saying something like: “My tummy feels empty. That is a clue that means I need to eat something to help my body feel better.”
Another helpful thing we can do is invite the child’s inner curiosity using I wonder statements with no expectation of response. Phrases such as “I wonder how your tummy feels right now” can promote inner curiosity and thought. If a child does not want to answer, that is okay. We want to encourage, not demand.
To help our child’s interoception growth, we can also use daily activities that tend to evoke stronger sensations in playful and safe feeling ways. Check out our free Interoception Daily Activity List for ideas here.
This is one of the most widely debated topics in the interoception field. No one has the ‘right’ answer.
There are some options out there, but include abstract wording, use fancy equipment or require a certain style of communication. So ,we created our own assessment, which is far from perfect, but it is helping us gain such valuable interoceptive insights that inspires more meaningful supports.
Check out The Comprehensive Assessment of IA here, or our free blog on interoception assessment here.
Lots of people have questions on where to start, who can I use these resources with, etc. The short answer is, interoception is an everyone thing, and there is no wrong time to start!
If you are new to the topic of interoception, then we suggest checking out many of our free resources found here. You can read blogs, watch videos, check out our printables…whatever is meaningful to your learning style. If you are looking for a deeper dive into the topic of interoception, many find our on-demand virtual course, 3 Steps to Improving Interoception, to be a great starting point.
We will be touching on all these topics and more this month. Stay tuned, because we are very much looking forward to the next four weeks of discussion and discovery!
Until next time.