Vestibular System

Vestibular input provides us with information about balance and where our body is in gravity.  There are two types of vestibular input, rotary and linear.  Rotary input refers to when the body is moving in circles (i.e. spinning or rolling), where linear input refers to a back and forth movement (i.e. rocking, swinging, jumping up and down).  Vestibular receptors in the inner ear help to receive rotary and linear input and send the information to the brain in order to help us understand our body’s movement (direction and speed), muscle tone, posture, and how to position our head in relation to gravity.  Quick and fast movements tend to be alerting, while slow and rhythmic movements tend to be calming.

When To Consider An Evaluation

 

A child who is over responsive to vestibular input may be sensitive or avoid certain types of movements.  This child may:

  • Be overly cautious, slow moving, or sedentary

  • Avoid or be fearful/emotional with any change to their body position (ex: leaning head back to wash hair, going down a slide, standing on high surface, walking across moving bridge)

A child who is under responsive to vestibular input may seek out certain types of movement.  This child may:

  • Crave intense, fast, and/or spinning movements

  • Be a thrill seeker

  • Need to move constantly

  • Have poor balance and/or bumps into objects frequently

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Photos by EJ Cannon Photography