Chapter 2-Interoception and Autism
Wow! Not gonna lie but these chapters are very long! Super informative and a huge amount of information, but so long!
As we know, sensory issues play a big part in the lives of those with Autism, and interoception issues are no different. In Chapter 1, we learned that the insula is where interoception stems from and in this chapter, we learn just how the insula in a brain with autism differs from a the brain of someone who is not impacted by autism. There are connectivity differences, activity differences and structural differences.
Interoceptive Awareness is really key in giving us so much information about ourselves. It lets us answer the questions about how we feel and how our bodies feel at different points throughout the day. It tells us when we are hungry, thirsty, need the washroom, when we are angry, sad or happy, and even when we are tired. Interoceptive awareness allows us to understand our basic emotions and, in doing so, allows us to understand and empathize with the feelings of others. Without a strong sense of interoceptive awareness, we are not able to act on instinct and therefore decision making is much more difficult.
The most important thing I learned about in this chapter was the varying forms of interoceptive impairment. Overresponsivity, underresponsivity and discrimination difficulty. As I was going through these descriptions and reading through the tables I began thinking about my own son, who is not autistic, but is ADHD and shows many of the traits of reduced interoceptive awareness. I also looked at myself and some of my own needs in these areas.
I seem to have an interroceptive overresponsivity to my body temperature, I seem to feel cold much longer than most normal human beings and relish in the days when my living room temperature is 25 degrees and I am cozy in my hoodie, under my blanket. My child seems to have an interroceptive overresponsivity in a number of areas. He seems always to be hungry at dinner time, eating 2 large helpings of food and still wanting to go back for more (he is only 65 pounds and is rail thin). He is extremely dramatic with minor injuries, claiming that he cannot walk when he has bumped his knee or stubbed his toe, or suggesting that he has a concussion when he knocks his head. He is underresponsive in that he waits until the very last second before going to the washroom, at times not making it and wetting or even soiling himself. We both are guilty of not being able to use calming strategies effectively, showing an underresponsivity with our emotions, often leading us to melt down-him into tantrums, me into yelling, causing chaos within the house. I am looking forward to learning some strategies to increase our interoceptive awareness in order to support us both.
I found it most interesting that our social ability and decision making are impacted by reduced interoceptive awareness. It makes complete sense as to why, seeing that our insular cortexes play a huge role in everything.
- In taking a look at your students/yourself/your child(ren), can you recognize whether they are over-, under-responsive or discriminating differently?