Another not-so-well-known sensory system is your vestibular system. It stems from your inner ear and helps you understand where your head is in space as well as your balance and spatial orientation. It also plays a major role in attention and focus! That is why some kids struggle with focusing during schoolwork tasks or at mealtimes because they are seated. Your vestibular system is closely connected with your proprioceptive system, affecting hand-eye coordination skills and body awareness.
Children who have difficulties with processing vestibular input present with difficulties sitting still, always moving or spinning, poor handwriting, decreased balance, decreased core strength, poor attention, and increased clumsiness. Some children may have gravitation insecurities which means they are more fearful of their feet off the ground or being moved unexpectedly. They may avoid swings, be scared of movement, or be overwhelmed with stairs or escalators. If severe, seek attention from our occupational therapists to further assess your child’s sensory processing skills.
Here are some activities to try at home to help target the vestibular system to maintain attention and arousal:
- Jumping on a trampoline or with jump rope
- Bouncing on a therapy ball
- Balancing on uneven surfaces or balance beams
- Swinging on a hammock, porch swing, or playground swing
- Biking or scootering
- Rolling down hills, summersaults, cartwheels, etc.
- Hanging upside down
- Playing tag with quick changes in direction
**Be aware of sensory overload including pupil dilation, sweaty palms, changes in breathing, nausea, or disorientation. If this occurs, stop the movement and provide deep pressure.
Vestibular activities. (2019, July 11). Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.theottoolbox.com/vestibular-activities/
Grogan, A., (2021, February 17). 45 essential Vestibular activities and INPUT IDEAS. Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://yourkidstable.com/vestibular-activities-and-input/