Proprioception and Vestibular

*This post is for information purposes and is based on my son’s experiences. Always seek professional advice from health care providers in regards to a person’s care.

Proprioception

Proprioception is our awareness of our body in connection to our environment. My son appears heavy-handed and footed, finding it difficult to judge what force to use when walking, writing and eating. He can also, at times appear clumsy. He presses down too hard while writing and cutting up his food, which puts a strain on his upper body.

Weighted Cutlery

I have a set of weighted cutlery at both my home and at my parents. He has a choice of which cutlery to use, knowing that a weighted set is always an option.

weighted cutlery used for proprioceptive input
Weighted Cutlery

Spatial Awareness

My son, at times, stands too close to people, which for my family we are used to it. I had to teach him to stretch his arm out and stay at arm’s length of people. (creating a personal space) At school, his previous teacher created a line using tape on his desk to encourage him to stop leaning over into the other children.

Self-Regulation

He wears a backpack to school and does chair and wall push-ups. He is encouraged to have movement breaks and shreds up paper for his artwork creations.

He sits at the edge of the sofa, pulling the coffee table close to him. I recall the Occupational Therapist explaining to me that for him to feel grounded, he has to do this and lean forward to create more force down onto his legs. Otherwise, he does not feel secure.

Deep Pressure

Over a year ago my son used a weighted lap pad, which was very handy. As he got older, he expressed not wanting to use this as he did not want to stand out. We respected his wishes and found more discreet ways to help him. (It’s all about doing what is most comfortable for him).

I remember when my son was a baby, I would massage his arms, legs and back before bedtime. Deep pressure really does help people who struggle with proprioception.

Vestibular

Vestibular refers to our sense of balance and coordination. The vestibular system is located in the inner ear.

In my previous blog: Diagnosis: The Journey Ahead – Part One, I mentioned that my son used to struggle with catching a ball when he was younger. This was due to poor hand to eye coordination.

My son sways side to side, (not as much as he used to) flaps his hands and fist pumps. He sometimes finds it hard to stay still.

Vestibular Input

He participates in swimming sessions for ASD children. When he first started, he would swim diagonally across the pool. Gradually he has developed the ability to coordinate both sides of his body together to swim in the lane. Other activities that help improve our vestibular sense are trampolining and Pilates. Gardening is also a good activity for the vestibular as well as proprioception.

Fine Motor Skills

Both proprioception and vestibular have an impact on our fine motor skills. This can cause difficulty with hand coordination and struggling to know where our hands are to our body.

To help promote a pincer grasp and visual integration you could do the following:

1) Use a light-up pen or a thicker pencil

light up pen for school
Light-up Pen

2) Use a cross-guard pencil grip

3) Pull out small objects from putty/Theraputty

theraputty activity used to strengthen finger muscles
Theraputty Activity

4) Write in a slanted position

5) Thread beads

threading beads to improve fine motor skills
Threading Beads

6) Practice writing big and small letters in the sand

7) Cut up cooked spaghetti using scissors. (You can use loophole/control training scissors)

fine motor spaghetti activity
Fine Motor Activity with Spaghetti

3 thoughts on “Proprioception and Vestibular

Add yours

  1. Son has had many of the same issues. Has made vast improvements but still struggles. Many of your great ideas helped. The other two things that really helped but need patience (and perseverance) with is repeated bouncing of a bouncy ball while holding a fun conversation. Then eventually trying to catch a ball while bouncing on a trampoline.

    Liked by 1 person

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