We all know about the 5 senses, touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, but did you know there are actually 2 more very important forgotten senses? These are the vestibular and proprioception senses. Those are some big words, but what do they mean?
Let’s find out!
Think about the vestibular system as the control centre in the brain that controls motion, head, position, and spatial reasoning. This system helps keep us balanced, keeps our head and body stable during movement and helps us maintain our posture. When this system is not functioning properly or not at all it may appear that a child has completely zoned out or may seem hyper or constantly moving. These children have found that they need to move in order to feel balanced. It is actually harder to balance while seated or standing still than it is when you are physically moving.
The proprioception is the sense that allows the body to locate movements and actions without thinking about it. This includes the ability to walk or kick a ball without looking at your feet or being able to touch your nose when your eyes are closed. When children can’t sense a body part, they may lose focus on the task at hand. Once they locate the body part, they may tap their foot or tap the desk with their hand in order to regain focus and keep track of that body part. When the proprioception sense is misfiring children may start to chew what is available to them, such as clothing, hair, pencil, or finger nails. They may also rock in their chair to the point of falling off.
To learn more please watch the video’s on vestibular and proprioception here: Brain Highways
How can we help them when sitting and focusing is required?
Here are a couple of examples you can use at home or in school to help children with these senses.
Here we have added an elastic band to the bottom of the chair, this allows the child to get a sense of moving and helps keep the balanced while seated.
Here we have a fidget cube, this helps the child focus their attention on the task at hand while not losing track of the sensation of their hands.
Providing the child with something appropriate to chew allows them to satisfy their sensory needs without fear of punishment.
Here we have a fidget snake, this helps the child focus their attention on the task at hand while not losing track of the sensation of their hands.
This chair is specifically designed for children who need to move to feel a sense of balance, it allows the child to move and reduces the chances of falling off the chair.
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