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Individuals with autism may experience difficulties with body awareness which will impair their ability to safely interact with the environment around them or specific objects. This could affect their fine motor abilities such as doing up buttons on a shirt or a pair of jeans or holding a pen/pencil which would educationally set their writing and drawing back. Body awareness difficulties can also affect their gross motor skills where coordination is significantly impaired with regards to running, walking, playing sports and general hand, eye coordination.
Proprioception difficulty also means that they are likely to not know their own strength and to misjudge it completely. Examples of this would be opening a door and it smashing into the wall due to the lack of understanding of how much power/strength was required to open the door. Other examples are throwing balls too softly or too hard and smashing something or pushing a pencil too hard onto paper when drawing and constantly breaking the tip. To picture this it is probably best to imagine that you want a Bowel of cereal and you have body awareness difficulties.
You go to open the cupboard door the kitchen but you do this too forcefully and damage the handle. You then take out the box of cereal and pour the breakfast into a bowel with most of the contents going into the bowel; then you go to the fridge and try to manipulate the carton of milk out from the side of the kitchen door (which feels very heavy). After this you have to get the lid off the milk bottle but due to your poor fine motor skills, this is difficult and frustrates you. If you manage to get the lid off the bottle without dropping it by accident to get enhanced frustration, you poor the milk into the bowel but whilst doing this, you let it fall out of the bottle too fast and you’ve now made a mess on the side. After clearing the mess you walk the bowel of cereal to the dining table dropping bits of breakfast on the floor as due to your poor gross motor skills, you don’t balance very well when you walk and can be a little clumsy. Now your finally sat down, you eat your cereal and drop milk and crumbs due to your inability to grip your spoon well or manipulate it from the bowel to your mouth.
The above example is probably how I would try explaining what it’s like to have body difficulties to a neurotypical individual who would likely find that process really frustrating if that was happening to them but, to someone with those difficulties it is quite normal and they need therapeutic activities to help them experience and judge force, to help them to build on the fine and gross motor skills and to make these difficulties much more manageable.
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