A Sit n Spin, Autism, And Sensory Processing Disorders...What Do These Three Have In Common?

Vestibular input!

A Sit n Spin will provide the sensory seeking Autistic or Sensory Processing Disorder child the movement they are craving... and they are just so much fun!

"What is this vestibular input 'stuff' you are talking about?" you ask. If you are new to this, allow me to explain.

Sensory processing of the vestibular sense involves sensory receptors of the inner ear telling us how our body is moving in relationship to space and gravity. It is the sense that allows us to coordinate movements of the eyes, head, and body. Individuals with Sensory Processing Disorders, may have hyper- or hypo-sensitivity to this vestibular input, if processing is inefficient.

With this in mind, lets look at the therapeutic uses of the Sit n Spin. It is truly an exhilarating "ride" for children who crave vestibular input... those sensory seeking (hyposensitive) "little gremlins".

Did you know many children with Sensory Processing Disorders and/or Autism, who are hyposensitive to vestibular input, don't actually get dizzy? Have you ever watched a child spin for what seemed like hours on a tire swing, merry go round, their own to feet, or a Sit n Spin and thought to yourself, "How can they DO that? I'd be so dizzy and nauseous if I spun that long!"

Well, I will let you in on a little secret... you can do a "dizziness test" to help understand them better.

Take two individuals, one that gets dizzy easily and one who doesn't. Have them spin around (preferably on something) as fast as possible for about 30 seconds. Stop them abruptly and look carefully into their eyes. You will see a big difference in the eyes of the two individuals.

In the case of the child who gets dizzy, you will notice their eyes "shifting" back and forth very rapidly (left, right, left in a "fluttering" kind of way). OK, the technical term for this is Postrotary Nystagmus (it's a big word, go ahead and impress your friends with it!)

If you also look into the eyes of the person who doesn't get dizzy easily (such as those with hyposensitivity to movement/vestibular input that you see in Sensory Processing Disorders and/or Autism), you will notice their eyes doing a similar thing.

BUT, here's the difference... the one who does get dizzy easily will show a more pronounced postrotary nystagmus (eye "fluttering", and it will last much longer than the individual who does not get dizzy as easily. Basically, it is "proof" of "decreased" sensory processing.

That being said, we can discuss the three ways to use our "dizzy machine"... the Sit n Spin.

The first is simple. ANY child with normal vestibular processing, usually just LOVES a Sit n Spin toy. They will enjoy spinning as often, as long, and as fast as they can get it going, and/or tolerate. It's just plain old FUN!

The second use for a Sit n Spin is as a sensory integration therapeutic tool for the HYPERsensitive. Children who are extremely sensitive to vestibular input (i.e., fearing it, getting dizzy within seconds, etc.), can use this as a tolerance building toy.

If they are afraid of the Sit n Spin, a gradual introduction and gradual experimenting with longer sessions on it will help their nervous system tolerate an increasing amount of vestibular input.

Start with some nice calming, organizing, deep pressure / proprioceptive input first, let them gradually explore it, sit on it, eventually spinning on it, and over time increasing the amount they can tolerate.

(NOTE: DO NOT FORCE them to do it on YOUR time. Let them get used to it... see general treatment guidelines for more on this)

Now, for the third use; probably the most sought after reason. You are the lucky parent of an individual who is HYPOsensitive to vestibular input. These are the ones who are in motion for what seems like every waking minute of the day. They need it, they want it, they crave it!

Or, they are the Autistic child (with hyposensitivity as well) who NEEDS to spin to remain/regain focus and neurological organization; thus, an overall sense of calmness.

Well, the Sit n Spin is a wonderfully, socially acceptable, fun way to give their little sensory craving systems the input it needs throughout the day to achieve an optimal state of arousal.

Again, the right combination of deep pressure and vestibular input will keep your child's sensory system more organized, calm, and focused. Besides, it's simply a classic toy that will bring years of grins and giggles to children everywhere.

So, use the Sit n Spin anytime when; the HYPOsensitive child's arousal level needs to be modulated, the HYPERsensitive child needs to have some necessary exposure to vestibular input, or any child just wants some traditional fun!

Check out these cool Sit n Spins... they are more than just a "dizzy machine"!

Related Resources

Some sensory kids do not like the sit n spin but may instead do better with a dizzy disc... which also provides excellent vestibular input

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