Yes. Seven. The five we all know – sight, taste, smell, touch, and hear…but there are two more. I didn’t know this until I began researching sensory disorders/autism spectrum.
The sixth sense isn’t just a movie folks! It’s a real thing – the vestibular sense.
The Vestibular System, which is a contributor to our balance system and our sense of spatial orientation, is the sensory system that provides the dominant input about movement and equilibrioception. Vestibular sense provides information related to movement and head position. The vestibular sense is important for development of balance, coordination, eye control, attention, being secure with movement and some aspects of language development. ( http://www.spdaustralia.com.au/the-vestibular-system/)
Space. A little talked about sense – vestibular. This sense tells us where our body is in space. Never before did I realize how ‘big’ the world is…not the entire world (although that is huge too)…but the world of our house, of Kwik Star, of the car, of school.
Tucker is like electricity. Always on the move, always in motion.When he was young it often felt like he was attached, literally.
Sit…on top of me.
Lay…on top of me.
He would stand…on top of me.
But not just to be loved. Then, why?
Because I (and others) made him feel ‘grounded.’ Like electricity, unless he was touching something else he couldn’t get a handle on where his body was located in space. You know those children who always need to touch the wall when walking through the hall? Who sit too close? Who are always right beside you? They are (most likely) NOT being naughty or trying to annoy you…their vestibular sense is ‘off.’
How can you help? Be patient with these children. Instead of brushing them off or pushing them away – cherish the moments you have to hold their hand, give them a bear hug, bring them in close, and give them appropriate places to touch. Once they feel ‘grounded’ in that environment, slowly but surely – it will get better. They will respond and develop coping skills when shown love, instead of frustration. So, give them a smile and a hug – they’ll get there, I promise.
Tucker did…well, at least most of the time. Last winter at a high school basketball game we were reminded of Tucker’s need to be grounded. He was sitting by my husband and the more space my husband tried to give him to spread out, the closer Tucker moved towards him. Eventually he ended up in a corner – talk about a ‘rock and a hard place!’ Ha! Soon he looked at me and we laughed. Not at Tucker, but what we knew and Tucker did not consciously know. He was trying to get grounded because of the overwhelming nature of the game. The lights, the sounds, the people, the colors, the smells…
So now instead of wondering what is wrong, I recognize these overwhelming situations immediately. I take care of the ‘grounding needs’ before it gets out of control. The trick for my pre-teen is finding ways to help him be grounded that aren’t embarrassing.
When we’re grocery shopping, I have him hold onto the cart. He feels helpful.
When we’re in a restaurant, I slide my foot under the table next to his. He looks up and smiles.
When we’re in worship, I put my arm around his waist and pull him tight. He puts his head on my shoulder.
It doesn’t happen as often now, but I cherish those moments to hold him close, clasp his hand in mind, and engage in those huge tight hugs. Why? He’s a pre-teen and I know those moments are fading….