Anxious because of poor balance? You bet!

Researchers have found evidence that when sensory motor deficits in children with balance issues are addressed, their anxiety decreases (see article). It makes sense–if you fear falling, it’s scary. Haven’t we seen this in our elders?

Sensory kids can be anxious about a new swing that has a different motion (for instance, a tire or platform swing when they’ve only been on ones that go back and forth). They may hesitate to walk downhill, due in part to their faulty sense of balance and in part to visual processing which makes navigating that trail to the bottom difficult. Fear of heights and climbing affects their gross motor skills and muscle tone after a while as they avoid climbing up playground structures and remain close to the ground rather than risk falling. The proprioceptive and vestibular senses of body awareness and movement need to work together to give a clear picture of what’s going on in the child’s body; when they don’t, they can’t rely on the sensory information to guide them safely. Poor balance and clumsiness are often signs of sensory processing disorder.

Gently pushing a child out of his comfort zone will help him to retrain his system to function more typically over time. This is most effective when his brain is most “reprogrammable” (or “plastic,” as neuroscientists say) in his toddler years, but the brain never stops being programmable, so we need to help these kids (and adults with these issues) with sensory motor help.

Kids need to feel confident in their balance to do climbing



Filed under anxiety, balance issues, exercise and movement for sensory kids, fear of heights, playground issues, Uncategorized, visual processing

2 responses to “Anxious because of poor balance? You bet!

  1. I noticed that once we got Jaimie into SI therapy with her AMAZING OT who got her doing lots of fun stuff with balance, climbing and swinging, Jaimie seemed a little less anxious about going to the park or other everyday things. We also discovered that Jaimie has rather high visual and auditory issues as well which, as you mentioned, all ties in together. Lots of vestibular/prop input with her iLs and listening therapy is really helping.

    VERY important topic, Thanks so much for discussing it. =)


  2. I’m glad listening therapy is helping. Is it The Listening Program or is it Therapeutic Listening?
    One thing that I’ve found is a lot of parents reporting that these types of programs have unexpected benefits, probably because all sensory issues are related.

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