What is Vestibular Sensory Disorder?
Many autistic children and children with ADHD have vestibular sensory disorder. Vestibular refers to parts of the inner ear and brain that help to control balance and eye movements. Vestibular Sensory disorders may result in dizziness or vertigo. There are some things that may help you recognize that your child may need to be seen by a professional.
What Are The Signs?
Vestibular sensory disorder may cause your child to appear tired or like they don’t want to begin or complete tasks that require a lot of gross-motor movement. Additionally, they may even be hyperactive at times. Tripping a lot or running into things is another sign that there may be an underlying sensory problem. Impulsiveness and inattentiveness are also things to look out for. Like other sensory disorders, those relating to vestibular can cause overactive or under-active sensitivities. Document how often these things occur throughout the day. Write a list of four major concerns (ex: running into things, falling, impulsivity, inattentive) and put a tally next to these each time it occurs throughout the day. Add them together at the end of the week to see patterns and to share with your child’s doctor.
What I can do to help my child?
Below is a list of five low to no-cost activities that support the development of vestibular sensory disorders.
- Have your child complete activities while lying on their stomach. They can read, write, make a game out of it and see how many objects they can pick up without scooting or using their knees. Do this at least three times a week to help support vestibular development.
- Find a year-round swimming pool and take your child swimming often. You can also invite your child’s friends or siblings and play water games that require a lot of movement.
- Bike riding is another excellent activity to help with vestibular development. Find a safe area for you and your child to ride bikes together and make it a routine.
- Jumping rope is an activity that helps with vestibular development and is also fun for many children. See how many times your child can jump rope within a set time limit and join in with them to make it fun.
- Take your child to the park and encourage them to use the monkey bars to climb across and hang on. Help them to make sure they don’t fall or feel scared.
vestibular Sensory Challenges
Some obstacles you may face and strategies for those obstacles are:
Your child may have frequent falling incidents. To help your child overcome this give them reminders to slow down while they walk and remove any obstacles in the home that may make it difficult for your child to navigate around with ease.
You may also have a difficult time getting your child to listen or pay attention due to constant body spinning and head movement. Give your child a reminder about the importance of paying attention to what is being said before beginning to speak to them about something important.
Additionally, your child may lose their toys often and get frustrated when they are unable to find them. This can cause melt-downs and negative behaviors. Help your child by modeling how to keep things organized and make sure your child has a place for everything to go. Make a visual of their bedroom that quickly shows where things should go to help keep them organized.
Keep a record of these strategies with the date and a note about the experience making sure to list the strategy used next to the note so you can track which strategies work best for your child.