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.

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