May 22, 2017

Child Therapy: Vestibular Sensory Activities

The last article in our sensory series focuses on sensory-rich activities for the vestibular system.  In the first article of the series, we discussed the three sensory systems targeted in sensory integration therapy: vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile. The vestibular system is located in the center of the inner ear and controls balance and movement. It is the strongest of the brain stem sensations so it requires the most sensory input to calm. The vestibular system gives us confidence that we can maintain a position and interact with our surroundings without the fear of falling. If a child’s vestibular system is not functioning correctly they may experience the follow:

  • Slouching or leaning on desks or tables
  • Difficult maintaining balance during activities
  • Fearful of movement activities such as playgrounds, stairs, and swings
  • Fidgeting or moving constantly

Vestibular Activities

The quickest and best way to calm the vestibular system is through slow, gentle, rhythmic swinging from a single hung point.  Swinging on a swing for at least 15 minutes can last up to 8 hours in the central nervous system. Therefore, swinging produces the longest benefits for a child with sensory processing disorder.

  • Kids Pod Hanging Swing: It is recommended to swing for at least 15 minutes a day first thing in the morning, and again in the afternoon. If sleeping is difficult, swinging for 15 more minutes at night can be beneficial.
  • A swing hung from a single suspended point is most ideal in order to provide the most effective and long-lasting vestibular input.

Other sensory options for vestibular input include:

  • Swinging on a porch swing or hammock.
  • Creating your own swing with a blanket. Have two people hold either side of a blanket and swing back and forth.
  • Using an exercise ball, have the child lie on their stomach and rock back and forth until their hands or feet touch the floor. Encourage your child to walk out onto their hands with the ball underneath their feet.
  • Rocking back and forth in a rocking chair.
  • Rocking on all fours on an air mattress.
  • Wrapping your child in a blanket cocoon (even better to use weighted blanket) and roll around.
  • Jumping on a trampoline.
  • Hanging upside down on monkey bars.
  • Dancing, gymnastic, karate, horseback riding, and/or aerobics for children.

Sensory integration therapy has shown tremendous success for children with sensory processing disorder. Lumiere Children’s Therapy offers sensory integration therapy daily in our therapeutic preschool. Click here to learn more or sign up for our preschool. For more information on sensory integration contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy or read some other articles on sensory integration: sensory processing disorder, understanding sensory integration disorder, sensory integration therapy, SI for Autism, and proprioceptive activities.



Braley, P. (2014, March 9). SENSORY PROCESSING: THE VESTIBULAR SYSTEM.                   Retrieved May 12, 2017, from http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/vestibular/

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