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Vestibular Stimulation Tip Sheet

Vestibular stimulation is the input that your body receives when you experience movement or gravity. It can be mild; nodding your head or climbing stairs or it can be intense; skydiving or a rollercoaster

Characteristics of Vestibular Dysfunction

  • Vestibular input has an impact on arousal. Too much vestibular input may lead to overarousal and too little vestibular input may lead to underarousal.
  • Hypersensitive: The child who is hypersensitive to vestibular input is more responsive to sensory input and will avoid movement. The child might:
    • be fearful of moving equipment
    • be fearful of simple challenges to balance
    • may appear lethargic
    • may appear to have low muscle tone
    • may avoid active play
  • Hyposensitive: The child who is hyposensitive to vestibular input is less responsive to sensory input and will seek movement. The child might:
    • appear to need to move
    • enjoy busy, energetic activities
    • appear to be in constant motion
    • enjoy movement
    • spin, whirl, or bounce frequently

Tips for Providing Vestibular Input

  • Slow, rhythmical, predictable movement is calming. For example, swinging, rocking, walking, or slow, gentle spinning in one direction.
  • Quick, arrhythmical, unpredictable movement is arousing. For example, jumping, bouncing, running, playground activities like the teeter totter, slide or climber, sports and games like hopscotch, soccer, hockey or tag.
  • Supervise and monitor activities as “overload” of the nervous system can occur. Signs of overload include irregular breathing, colour change, sweating, pallor, increased anxiety, change in sleep patterns, etc.
  • An activity should be stopped immediately if the child shows any signs of distress and/or discomfort.
  • Consultation with an Occupational Therapist is recommended.

Geneva Centre for Autism
112 Merton Street, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2Z8
Tel: (416) 322-7877 – Toll Free: 1-866-Geneva-9 – Fax: (416) 322-5894

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