January 1

Chapter 5- A Need for Change

In this world’s shortest chapter, we are given food for thought. Interoception is a relatively new topic but look at how important it is for many individuals, those with Autism, ADHD and other self-regulation difficulties. The challenge in this chapter is to learn more about interoception. Work hard at building the IA of our students with the end goal that they become more aware of themselves and those around them. Help our students be all that they can be, in the present and in their future!


Thank you for reading with me! Ihope that you enjoyed the book as much as I did!

January 1

Chapter 4- Building Interoceptive Awareness

This chapter is, really, what we have all been waiting for! The section with the strategies! There are two different types of interventions, those for reducing Interoceptive Awareness and one for building Interoceptive Awareness. Those strategies being used in cases of reduced interoceptive awareness will give the child indications of whne to complete the necessary task, such as alarms for using the washroom. IA Builders increase attention to the functions of the body and thus increase one’s awareness of these necessary features.


Strategies for Interoceptive Awareness Builders are found on pages 71 through 88. Each strategy includes a mini-lesson plan for each one. At my school this year, we are doing an inquiry project on anxiety, teaching students about anxiety, what it is, how it feels and how to work with it, including strategies to reduce these feelings. One of the first things we have been doing is asking the kids to do a body scan- a thoughtful process about where they feel their anxiety when they do feel it. In this chapter, we see the stages of the body scan for those that are not yet aware of the feelings inside their bodies and then it works its way up to the feelings when a child is uspset, anxious, sad, etc. There are also strategies learning about heart rate and games that teach a child how to lower their heart rates. These is also an IA Builder called  “Interoception in Others” in which they use the skills they have learned about themselves in order to see these feelings in others. I think I might have to play this game with my own son, who often does not see how others are feeling until it is way too late.


Which strategies do you already use? Which would you like to try out? Is there a strategy that you might change somehow to suit your own needs?

January 1

Chapter 3- Assessment

In order to measure a child’s Interoceptive Awareness, it is necessary to use an assessment tool. The problem is, there isn’t an effective tool for children, yet. The tool that is currently available, the Mulitdisciplinary Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness, is geard towards adults. Kelly Mahler has spent some time developing an assessment tool, which she updates frequently as she learns more and more from her clients. This tool is a question and answer format that is designed to be done as an interview. She has also designed a questionnaire that targets self-regulation skills. Finally a third questionnaire for the caregiver of the individual helps round out the information on the children with whom you may be supporting. Since it is important to understand a child’s challenges before supporting them fully, working through these questionnaires will give you a good starting point.


Obviously, assessment is very important, and there is an example of the assessment in the appendix of the book, but I can honestly say that I am a little upset that you have to purchase a whole other book in order to be able to assess interoceptive awareness of the children I work with. Thankfully, it is only $27.95 + shipping, but I was hopeful that this book would give me a wasy to assess and utilize the necessary strategies without having to purchase another book.



October 5

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.


  1. In taking a look at your students/yourself/your child(ren), can you recognize whether they are over-, under-responsive or discriminating differently?


September 15

Chapter 1- What is Interoception?

Growing up, I was always told that we have 5 senses- taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing. When I began learning about Autism through our POPARD courses as a young teacher (well I was in my mid-late 20s), I learned about the vestibular and proprioceptive systems that are known as the “hidden senses”. Here I sit in my late 30s and I am being introduced to yet another sense- our interoception system, which allows us to feel our internal states and the condition of our bodies. Based onwhat I have learned so far, our interoception system is so very important! It allows us to feel everything from being cold, to hunger, to pain and pleasure right down to the need to use the facilities. In short- the interoception system helps keep us alive and functioning!


Probably my favourite part of this chapter is how they introduce “The Sensory Gang”. This reminds me of the “Little Miss… and Little Mr.” books- do you remember those? Anyways, this little section would be a great way to introduce students to all of these senses in a way that makes sense.


Another important piece of information I have learned in this very long chapter is that there is a special area in the brain that is responsible for interoception- the insular cortex (insula). It is responsible for changing the messages our bodies are giving into understandable feelings, both body states, such as hunger and emotional states, such as happiness. When your insular cortex is working properly, you are more aware of your states of being, you are in tune with yourself. If not, well, I guess we will find out further on in the book!


Self-regulation and interoception are very closely tied together. Since self-regulation is “our ability to control the way we feel and act” (pg. 13), and the interoception system gives our bodies messages about how we feel, they both seem to work hand-in-hand. It seems that if we have a good working insular cortex and are in tune with how our body is feeling, we should be able to better control these feelings and emotions.


Having a strong sense of interoceptive awareness allows for one to be better able to regulate the body in all areas. It allows one to regulate their emotions, recognize a problem and work through it and make important decisions whenever needed. A strong interoceptive system also allows one to navigate through the social norms. Perspective taking and empathy are also supported by the interoceptive system. Finally, interoception allows us to be more self-aware. It allows us to know who we are and how we feel in any given moment.


  1. What really stands out for you in this chapter?
  2. Where do you feel you stand in the area of your own personal interoceptive awareness?