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Sensory Integration

Vestibular and Proprioception  

 
 

Vestibular 

What is it?

Vestibular sense monitors body balance, movement, and sense of gravity.  It responds to a change in your head position or your feet lifted off the ground.  It is the most connected sensory system in our body.

Why is it important for learning?

Improves visual tracking (maintaining a steady visual image while watching a moving object) & hand (fine motor) skills.  This helps them:

  • smoothly look up at a whiteboard, then down at their work

  • read effortlessly, as they find it hard to scan a line of text.

Vestibular input can also help a child to feel regulated in order to keep them focused and attentive.

 

Supports language development by integrating with our auditory & visual senses.

Ergonomic classrooms encourage vestibular activities

Bouncing

Rocking

Balancing

Whenever possible, offer options besides sitting in a chair

Sitting on a ball chair

Bouncing on a therapy ball

Rocking on a wobble stool

Swiveling in a chair

Standing on a balance board

Standing/sitting on a balance disc

 

Proprioception

What is it?

Proprioception is the sensory input you receive from the movement of muscles. You process proprioceptive information with every contraction and stretch of the muscles. It lets you know exactly where your body parts are, how you are positioned in space, and how to plan your movements.  Examples of your proprioception in practice include being able to clap your hands together with your eyes closed, write with a pencil and apply with correct pressure, and navigate through a narrow space.

Why is it important for learning?

Proprioceptive input regulates and organizes alertness and excitement.  Proprioceptive activities can help and excited child calm down to feel more grounded, enabling them to focus.

Proprioceptive sensations help the Reticular Activating System (RAS) better filter unnecessary distractions. For example, a child gets distracted from a fly buzzing around, the RAS filters out this distant buzzing noise and allows the student to keep his/her attention.

The RAS is the gatekeeper of information that is let into the conscious mind. This little bit of brain matter is responsible for filtering the massive amounts of information your sensory organs are constantly throwing at it and selecting the ones that are most important for your conscious mind to pay attention to. 

Ergonomic classrooms encourage proprioceptive activities

Cardiovascular

Weightbearing

Pushing/Pulling

Whenever possible, offer options to provide for proprioception

Pedaling on a bike

Motions with resistance

Passing out papers and books

Carrying a backpack

Rearranging Desks

Carrying a backpack

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