Why Depth Perception & Proprioception Matter

Why Depth Perception & Proprioception Matter

Do you find yourself constantly warning your kids to watch their step or reminding them they bumped into someone?


Does your child seem to struggle with:
● Hitting a ball with a bat?
● Throwing and catching a ball?
● Getting into a tunnel or water slide?
● Grabbing items on a table?
● Judging how far away items are?
● Difficulty walking up or down stairs?


If your child has any of these challenges, it might be due to problems with depth perception and the proprioceptive system.

What is Depth Perception?
Depth perception is your ability to see objects in three dimensions, including their size and their distance from you. It's made possible by many parts in your eyes and brain working together to process information, estimate their location and create the images you see. It tells us where objects are and where we are in relation to the objects. Depth perception requires several inputs, including motor planning, proprioception, visual tracking and spatial perception.

If there is a problem with motor planning, a child may be unable to work out how to move their body in the right direction to catch a ball. If their proprioceptors are not firing correctly, they'll find it hard to judge how far their body is from an object, making it hard to hit or catch a ball.
If the problem lies with visual tracking, your child may have trouble seeing how fast or how far something is moving, or they may have issues with spatial perception, where they struggle to see where things are supposed to be, which can lead to bumping into objects or falling over them.

What is Proprioception?
Proprioception helps us know where our body is in relation to our environment. The receptors for depth perception are called proprioceptors. These cover our whole body and are located in our muscles, ligaments and fibres. They absorb the stimuli of our movement and give us feedback about the strength and pressure in our body and the position of our joints.

We use proprioception daily to move, change our position, and interact with the world around us. This unconscious action happens thousands of times a day without us even realising it. For example, we automatically correct our head or sitting position without visual control.

Proprioception is a key part of depth perception. It helps our brain know how to move our limbs and what position our body is in when we walk, sit, or lie down. It also helps us estimate the size of objects, how far away they are, and how much strength we need to use them. Proprioception guides us on how much pressure to apply and helps us adjust our movements accordingly.



Depth Perception & Proprioception in Action
Imagine you see an object in front of you. You look at it and estimate how much effort you need to lift it. However, when you lift it, you find it's lighter than you first thought, and you nearly drop it in surprise. In this case, your depth perception gave your brain the wrong information - you felt confused and shocked because you usually know how much strength you need to lift that object through your proprioceptors.

That's why depth perception and proprioception matter. They play an essential role in our daily lives, helping us to engage with the world around us safely. That's why early intervention can help build these skills, especially if they have a diagnosis, such as autism or sensory processing disorder, that can impact their depth perception skills.

Signs of Poor Perception Skills
Several signs could indicate poor depth perception and proprioception in your child:
● Often runs unintentionally into doors, walls or other objects
● Seems clumsy or falls often
● Struggles to catch items
● Difficulties in carrying objects
● Has problems with balance
● Cuddles roughly and hurts other children unintentionally
● Difficulty walking down steps or walks with a different gait

Activities to Build Depth Perception and Proprioception
The good news is that there are many ways to help build your child's depth perception and proprioception skills through daily activities and play at home.

Daily Play Activities
● Putting clothes on and off
● Cooking and baking
● Walking up and down stairs
● Running and jumping
● Doing sports
● Crawling under chairs
● Completing puzzles
● Playing with putty
● Building with Lego or other materials
● Playing with a ball
● Tackling an obstacle course
● Imitating animal movements
● Climbing ropes or ladders
● Playing board games like Operation

If your child struggles with depth perception and proprioception, starting slowly when working on their skills is important. If your child doesn't want to participate or is resistant to play, they are possibly overwhelmed and need to have a break or remove themselves from the situation before feeling ready to begin. Practice will help them more safely navigate the world around them.

JettProof sensory clothing helps build your child's proprioception and depth perception skills. The inbuilt sensory compression provides proprioceptive feedback to the wearer, enhancing their ability to plan and coordinate movement. JettProof sensory clothing also gives a sense of calm, delivering all-day support to combat stress, anxiety and sensory overload.

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