from Caroline Pringle, Families and Professionals Advisor for child enquiries
Welcome to week 4 where I will cover balance and body awareness.
Remember certain reactions/experiences can be seen as hypo - low sensitivity or hyper - high sensitivity, for some children these can overlap and can also change over time.
Vestibular (inner balance) and proprioception (joints and muscles)
How our body handles movement is down to our vestibular systems.
Need to rock, spin, swing
Likes hanging upside down
Moving in and out of their seats
Difficulties with sport/movement
Low muscle tone
Difficulties stopping quickly during activities
Gets dizzy easily
Avoids walking downstairs
Solutions (these can overlap)
Linear movement (back and forwards) such as rocking, swinging, and rolling on a gym ball - not rotating movements.
Break activities into small steps
Visual clues – finish line
Look at seating when at school, dinner table etc. try to have a position where feet are firmly on the floor.
If wanting to spin have regular stops
Proprioception (Body Awareness)
Proprioception is knowing what our body is doing and how it is moving. It helps us understand the force to use in activities such as getting dressed, using a toothbrush, eating. It helps us understand personal space and we can adjust our body position to give people that space.
May crash into things (poor spatial awareness)
Difficulty in seating themselves in a chair
Understanding personal space
Difficulty with knowing the force they are using
Fine motor skills
Holding cutlery, using a pen/pencil
Problems with lacing shoes/buttons
Moving body to look at things
Solutions (these can overlap regarding the above sensitivities)
Weighted items such as a backpack or lap pad
Moving objects such as a pile of books
Wall push ups
Pushing and pulling activities
Household chores can help such as sweeping, digging, moving wheelie bins, pushing shopping trolley
Please note do not apply too much pressure or ask your child to push, pull, carry, or use something that is too heavy for them.
For balance and body awareness consider using hoops or carpet squares to reinforce personal boundaries, to help them know where to sit at school for ‘carpet time’. Also circle cushions with different fabric attached to the edges for them to fidget with when sitting may help. It may be a position wedge will help when seated at a table at school, it’s better if their feet are on the floor rather than dangling about if sitting at a table. You can also consider alterative seating such as therapy balls, bean bags, hokki stools.
Important – Try not to move around too much when talking or interacting with a child!