Dr. Anne Zachry

occupational therapist & child development specialist

Category: Blog Posts (page 1 of 2)

Gravitational Insecurity

Children who present with sensory issues can be classified as having sensory defensiveness, registration problems, modulation issues, and sensory integration problems. One type of sensory defensiveness is called gravitational insecurity. A child with gravitational insecurity typically responds to movement activities with exaggerated emotional responses. This is because their vestibular system is not functioning properly.

Gravitationally insecure children prefer to stay low to the ground. You will typically find them lying down or seated, trying to prevent any possibility of movement. Children with this type of defensiveness avoid most active physical tasks and may get upset when movement is required of them. To get a gravitationally insecure child moving, it may be helpful to physically guide them during play activities such as climbing, sliding and swinging. I’ve gone down a slide with a child in my lap, and sometimes, this provides that extra security needed to tolerate the vestibular input. Also, role-playing can also be beneficial, tell your child, “watch me to this, or do it just it the way I do,” then provide demonstration. Always introduce new movement activities gradually and in small doses, and ALWAYS stop if your child appears to be frightened or overstimulated. If your child has extreme responses to movement activities, I would recommend that you look into occupational or physical therapy services.

Photo Credit: imagerymajestic@freeDigialPhotos.net


Fun Fine Motor Tong Activity!

Kids love this fun fine motor tong activity! The great thing about this activity is that it helps develop those fine motor skills that are important for writing, typing, using scissors, and fastening fasteners on clothing. Tong activities are also great for developing manipulation skills on the thumb, index, and middle finger side of the hand while working on stability on the pinkie and ring fingers.
     For this activity, you will need the following:
Non-Slip Children’s Bathtub Appliques with Suction Cups
Various Sizes of Pom Pom Balls

Have the child use the tongs to grasp pom poms and place them in the suction cups.

Watch the video below of this child carrying out the activity! What a nice grasp and great control!

This activity is also a wonderful way to work on counting and matching and naming colors. Have fun!

More about Sensory Defensiveness

When a child has tactile defensiveness, it’s likely that there are some other issues going on as well. You might notice a resistance to eating certain textures of food, which is called oral defensiveness. If your child demonstrates oversensitivity to light and visual distractibility, it’s possible that there is some visual defensiveness going on. If certain sounds are particularly annoying or even painful to your child, this is called auditory defensiveness. One type of defensiveness that I didn’t mention in my earlier post is gravitational insecurity. This is an extreme sensitivity to heights, movement and/or a change in head position in space.

When a child is experiencing defensiveness in more than one sensory system, it’s likely that this is impacting his or her quality of life. That means it’s time to seek therapy from an experienced therapist. A common treatment for sensory defensiveness is the Wilbarger Brushing program. This involves deep touch pressure using a special brush along with joint compressions. The program is recommended by a therapist trained to administer the protocol, and it is used in conjunction with a “sensory diet” of activities that include vestibular and proprioceptive input.  For little ones with oral defensiveness, there are special techniques that a trained therapist will utilize to address this issue.  With the brushing program, the trained therapist will provide hands-on training so that the parents and other adults who work with the child can administer the program. It is typically carried out approximately every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day. Your therapist will supply brushes and replace them when needed.

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