"Ali is always talking about this thing in dance class!"
The vestibular system is a sensory system that is responsible for providing our brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation; it also is involved with motor functions that allow us to keep our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement, and maintain posture.
Remember the dizzy feeling you got as a child after you jumped off the merry-go-round or spun around like a top? These feelings result from activation of the vestibular system, which detects our movements through space but is not a conscious sense like vision or hearing. In fact, most vestibular functions are imperceptible.
Often times the warning signs that something is off with the vestibular system are often mistaken as behavioral issues, similar to the proprioceptive system. It may lead to academic problems, issues with muscle development, and issues with attention.
Also, it may be the reason why a child is stimming because they feel a need move to stimulate this system. However, for others, movement can cause anxiety and nausea.
If you are experiencing behavioral changes or issues in your child or a person you care for, perhaps check to see if they are having vestibular system issues before seeking a behavioral modification modality is put in place. (before you seek to change the behavior with a system)
Some great vestibular system activities for those who need a little stimulation include:
Hanging Upside Down The amount of vestibular input the brain receives from hanging upside down is really powerful because it’s such a unique experience. It can help keep sensory seekers calm for hours.
Spinning or Rolling A great vestibular input activity and depending on your child and how sensitive they are to becoming dizzy you may be able to do activities with fast spinning, or you may need to do slower more rhythmic spinning activities.
Yoga Especially poses that are inversions where the head is lower than the feet.
Freeze Dance The stopping and starting motion is a great vestibular stimulator.
These are just some helpful stimulating activities to build the vestibular system and get some good ole stimulation.
For more information on the vestibular system and balance go to the VEDA website: https://vestibular.org/understanding-vestibular-disorder/human-balance-system