Whoa... Put Me Down! Don't Tip Me
Over Like That! I'm Falling! Does YOUR Child Show Signs of Gravitational
Gravitational insecurity? As a parent, this was often hard to watch.
Here's how it affected my daughter...
Gravitational insecurity kept her off the playground for the first few
years of her life, unless:
- she sat on my lap going down the slide or while swinging on a swing
- I supported her body and stuck right with her while she climbed those
"death defying" ladders/stairs... "Come on mommy!" she would shout
- Oh, and don't EVEN think about those netted/rope bridges that you walk
across! Brakes on... reverse... no way!
Gravitational insecurity kept her out of other people's loving arms...
If she could have expressed herself it might have sounded like this:
- "If they hold me, I don't know what they will do! I'm scared!"
- "NO!!... Don't throw me up in the air like that. I don't care if other kids
like it, I don't!"
- "NO!!... Don't tip me upside down!! I don't care if you think it's cute!"
- "Quick, give me back to mommy! SHE knows what I like (and don't like)!"
Gravitational insecurity (and
kept her in the
only; never venturing up those scary tubes and slides at McDonald's
play land and Chuck E. Cheese (oh, except that one time I had to go in and
rescue her...paralyzed in fear and crying... I THOUGHT she was taking
awfully long to come down!)
Gravitational insecurity (and tactile defensiveness) kept her out of the
hairdresser's and dentist's chairs, and far away from ever trying to wash
her hair over the sink for a quick spruce up... "NO!! Don't tip my body
or head back like that!! Hey, where am I going?? I'm FALLING!" I'm
scared... get my feet back on the ground!! (she might have said)
Gravitational insecurity made her freak out when she had her OT evaluation
and the therapist tried to lay her back on a giant exercise ball. That movement was not only scary, but anytime someone else moves one of these kiddos, it is ten times more frightening!
Gravitational insecurity made her sit down and have a panicked look on her
face while riding elevators.
Gravitational insecurity has kept her from learning how to do a somersault
(on the ground) or attempting any sort of dive into a pool even to this day
So What's A Parent To Do?
First, LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD. Pay attention to your child's fears and be a
careful observer of their reactions.
Second, try to identify this issue as early as possible in their lives; know the signs! The younger she is when you recognize possible vestibular dysfunction
(click here for the SPD Checklist), the more we can successfully work on
this issue. If it goes on too long, they will have missed major developmental
milestones and be an anxious, possibly controlling, frightened, lower
Third, get an OT or PT evaluation done by a qualified professional who is
familiar with Sensory Processing Disorders/Sensory Integration Dysfunction.
Fourth, start "treatment".
(Check out "Treatment Guidelines" for some general "rules")
Here Are Two Of Our Favorite Activities That Helped Our
1. Trying movements in the water that she was uncomfortable doing on land.
Water is therapeutic in so many ways. Beyond the usual benefits, SPD kiddos
particularly benefit from it due to the change in "gravitational pull" and the
whole body, deep pressure input it gives them. This has an amazingly calming
affect, not only for these gravitationally insecure kiddos, but for those with
tactile defensiveness, the sensory seekers, those with regulation and modulation
difficulties, and those with
proprioceptive dysfunction. For the gravitationally
insecure, the water helps calm their system with deep pressure and allows them a
better sense of security as one's body feels "weightless" and safer because a
potential "fall" doesn't hurt the way it does on
So, be creative. Do anything you can think of in a pool! In the off season,
many clubs have pools with certain swim times for kids to use... we go to our
local health club.
What to do? Climb steps, step over things, dive for toys, try a handstand (in
waist or chest deep water), practice sitting on unstable surfaces (pool toys),
climb on and off inflatable water toys, teach them to swim under water (give
them goggles and have them swim between your legs or other objects), and if
you're really lucky try a somersault or "frog dive". Find their comfort level
and work your way up!
And, if you have the resources to do it, I would even suggest the short
sleeve children's wet suits they make, for some extra deep pressure input!
2. Play the amusement ride game (this was our favorite!)
Mom or Dad lie down on their belly. Child climbs on top and straddles them.
Child puts a "quarter" into slot (mom/dad's head) and the ride starts (just like
at the grocery store/Walmart etc.) How much Mom or Dad does will depend on the
level of the child's insecurity.
Mom/Dad, start by asking the child "what am I". Our kiddo would say, "a
dolphin, a bear, a lion, an airplane a car, etc..." Now, Mom/Dad/Auntie/
Uncle...make your body move like it is one of those rides. As the child
progresses, get them up in the air (you on all fours a-movin' and a-shakin') My
daughter used to say, "rides over" when she wanted to stop or change the type of
Make sure you do stop when they say stop... her dear dad didn't listen
to her one time and just kept going... she kept patting him saying louder and
louder, "rides over, daddy" and ended up laying down on his back instead of
sitting up because that was just too much input for her (that particular time
daddy was an airplane using one arm to fly, one to support himself on the floor,
and he went up, down, and sideways)!
The bottom line? If gravitational insecurity keeps your child from doing or
enjoying things other kids their age do... find an OT!
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take a realistic look at how a world is perceived by an SPD child or adult.
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