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  • Writer's pictureChristie Pride

Tricky Senses and those Over Active Kids

What Your Senses Do: Focus ~ Vestibular (Movement Processing) System

Do you have a child who is always running, spinning, or constantly moving? If so, your child may be seeking vestibular input to organize his or her body and improve focus.

Children who have vestibular system challenges either crave movement or avoid it. Most crave movement but also avoid certain types of movement. These children are lacking a sense of knowing where they are in space and frequently use their eyes to let them know when they are upright, what obstacles are around them, and when they are in a position that “isn’t safe” such as sideways, leaning backward or upside down. When tipped by somebody else toward their backs or sides, or when challenged for balance without being given support at their trunks, they can suddenly feel unsure of where center is and unsafe, so they may react in a type of “panic” and respond with fight/flight/freeze actions. If this happens, it generally only takes a bit of firm pressure at the shoulders and hips to reorient the child in space, or a secure hug from a parent.

The vestibular system is imperative for development of muscle tone, ocular control, and a sense of inner body awareness and organization. It also helps organize bilateral motor control. Kids who lack automatic vestibular integration often have difficulty sitting still, difficulty listening if forced to sit still, and challenges being moved quickly or moved off the ground. They often seek out climbing experiences and can be seen doing what parents consider “dangerous” things (jumping from the back of furniture, for instance). Activating the system helps reduce the constant activity, constant climbing, and fear responses when moved.

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