The Vestibular System

The inner ear, where the vestibular system is housed, is not only responsible for our ability to hear but it also provides us with the ability to process information about movement, gravity, balance and space. The vestibular system is foundational to many other neurodevelopmental systems and a weakness in  vestibular functioning can cause pervasive problems from inaccurate auditory sequencing to reading difficulties to motion sickness.

Clues that may indicate a weakness in the vestibular system include:

  • excessive rocking
  • avoidance of carnival rides, merry-go-rounds, swings
  • obsessive watching of things that spin or excessive spinning of self
  • dizziness or nausea caused by watching things move
  • reports of never having felt dizzy or nauseated
  • problems of vertigo and/or balance
  • difficulty walking on uneven ground
  • need to move fast
  • motion sickness
  • dislike of crowded or noisy environments
  • delayed language development (understanding and using)
  • reading difficulties
  • inability to read or write in cursive
  • hearing problems
  • problems of auditory sequencing
  • inability to sustain listening without moving or rocking
  • placing hands over one’s ears
  • need for repetition of words and phrases
  • word incomprehension
  • difficulty regulating speaking voice
  • dislike of music
  • avoidance of chewing
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep if there is any noise or what most people perceive as “no noise”
The Vestibular System

“The vestibular system or the three fluid filled, semi-circular, tube-shaped canals of the inner ear do much more than just allow us to balance. They support, innervate, organize and regulate our muscle tone, vision and hearing which in turn support our academic and social skills.”

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