Vestibular Activities

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Vestibular activities are activities that provide movement sensations.  Vestibular activities are often used for movement opportunities as part of a child’s sensory diet.  In addition to having a regulatory effect on the nervous system, vestibular input can also help to improve balance, posture, body awareness, spatial awareness, and bilateral coordination.

It is important to note that vestibular input, especially spinning, is VERY powerful and its effects can last on the nervous system for up to 2 days.  You must be a careful observer of your child during and after involvement in vestibular activities for any noted changes in activity level.  Children prone to seizures should be closely monitored during vestibular stimulation.  The “flickering” effect created when repeatedly moving or spinning past a highly contrasting environment (window, etc) at a fast pace can induce a seizure for seizure prone children.

Always remember to follow the child’s lead when it comes to vestibular input.  It is always better to allow the child to be in control of the movement rather than imposing the movement upon them.  Never maintain stimulation at a high rate of speed.  It is better to vary the speed, change the child’s position, vary the direction, etc.  Stop when the child indicates that he/she has had enough.  Watch for physical signs of over-stimulation including drastic changes in arousal level (increased hyper activity or ‘zoning out”), flushing or paling of the skin, change in breathing rate, nausea, pupil dilation, hiccups.  Stop the activity immediately if any of these are noted.

  • Jump on a mini trampoline
  • Jump on the bed or a mattress on the floor
  • Jump off a step or the couch onto a pile of pillows/cushions
  • Find and old box or large Rubbermaid container- have your child sit in it while you pull him/her around
  • Have your child sit on a sheet while you pull them around the kitchen floor
  • Swinging in a sheet or parachute held by two adults
  • Hop scotch
  • Roller skating or ice skating
  • Hippity Hop balls
  • Rocking horses or rocking chairs
  • Hammocks
  • Trapeze bars
  • Slides
  • Crashing, rolling, or bouncing on an air pillow or waterbed mattress
  • Log rolls around the room or down a hill
  • Sit and spin
  • Merry-go-Rounds
  • Teeter totters
  • Roller racer or Plasma car
  • In the summer try using a Slip and Slide.  In the winter try sledding
  • Scooter boards down inclines, around cones or other obstacles
  • Somersaults
  • Slowly rocking back and forth or side to side while lying prone over an exercise ball
  • Practice walking over unsteady surfaces (air mattresses, cushions, pillows, hiking trails, etc)
  • Walking on balance beams, railroad ties, or low retaining walls (with supervision)
  • Spinning in an office chair
  • Using a large laundry bag, have your child climb inside pretending it is a “washing machine.”  Rock or shake your child in the bag letting them direct you about when they are “clean”


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Jamie Jones, MS OTR/L