I always get confused with terms vestibular and, especially proprioceptive. This is the reason why I have set myself to learn exactly what these 2 terms mean when it comes to sensory play.
The last five senses we’ve discussed are stimulated by external factors. There are also lesser-known senses that relate to the body’s internal muscles and joints.
If you’ve had congestion or water in your inner ear and felt off balance you’ve felt the effects of the vestibular system. This sense helps keep us upright and know how quickly we are moving.
The proprioceptive sense also located in the inner ear helps with direction, position and location of the body.
Children with sensory processing disorders related to the vestibular and proprioceptive systems can be over or under stimulated in these areas.
They may crave movement more than typically developing children. They may move too quickly or crash into things. They may also seem lethargic or lack gross motor muscle control.
All children, whether typically developing or with sensory processing disorders need a stimulation of the vestibular and proprioceptive systems as much as they do stimulation of the external five senses.
Getting outside for gross motor activities is the best way to stimulate these inner ear systems. We’ve listed some activities that stimulate the systems specifically. Though we’ve separated them into vestibular and proprioceptive there is some overlapping and both systems can be engaged at the same time.
Gross Motor Activity for Vestibular System
Gross Motor Activity for Proprioceptive System
- Weighted blankets
- Carrying heavy objects
Hopefully, you see this list of activities and realize that most can easily be accomplished by visiting a local park! When children participate in stimulating the vestibular and proprioceptive systems they’ll also experience gross motor development. So jump, swing, climb and get out and play!
Amy is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and writer. She loves sharing what she knows about family, play and early learning. When she’s not at her computer you can find her spending family time, organizing or decorating her home, reading a good self-help book or pretending she knows how to cook but she usually leaves that to her awesome husband!