On day seven I wrote about the vestibular sense (Day 7 – Seven Senses?!?!) What is life like for children (and adults) who are Hypo-Vestibular? Well – it’s like an eternal life as a toddler. Always moving, always, always moving. The more intense the movement, the better. Sitting, twirling, spinning – these children have trouble sitting still and paying attention. It seems obvious that children who seek vestibular fulfillment are often misdiagnosed (or correctly diagnosed) with ADD/ADHD. This was almost Tucker…but in my gut, I knew that wasn’t right.
People often ask me if I think Autism is truly ‘on the rise,’ if the ‘parameters of diagnosis’ have relaxed, or if we are more aware and able to identify/diagnose. That is a hefty topic for another post – what I do know is that many of the ways schools have changed have not done our children good.
Recess and PE have always existed for a reason. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of recess and PE gave me serious anxiety (I was slow, uncoordinated, and generally terrified of anything that required me to have any athletic prowess…oh, wait – did I saw ‘was’? I meant am.) Some schools are taking out PE and Recess time in exchange for more time to meet core standards. The very nature of ‘school’ is to sit still, to stand quietly in line, to pay attention – often, this is just impossible. In fact, our children are being asked to sit more than ever.
Some believe there is a correlation to the absence of PE/Recess and the increase of ADD/ADHD. See the graph below? Not good news for Iowa – this is State-based Prevalence Data of ADHD Diagnosis (2011-2012): Children CURRENTLY diagnosed with ADHD (Centers for Disease Control). For more information read: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/08/why-so-many-kids-cant-sit-still-in-school-today/
Children need movement. Children who are hypo-vestibular? They NEED movement. A horrible irony takes place with many of these children. They wiggle, they move, they can’t sit still. They are constantly being told to stop wiggling, to not move, and to sit still. Then, they have to focus SO hard on being ‘good’ that there isn’t enough energy left to get their work done.
While Tucker didn’t crave intense movement, he craved constant movement (Day #40 – Rock-A-Bye). He still has troubles being ‘still.’ He’s constantly throwing a football, dancing around, shaking his legs…
A well-meaning teacher was trying to meet standards and she held Tucker in from recess to finish his work. He hadn’t finished his work because he was concentrating on sitting still. The cycle continued for the rest of the day – bad day for Tucker, bad day for Teach. The one thing NOT to take away from these children? Movement. Please, find another way to wield power…taking away movement will NOT help.
Give them movement, see what could happen. Just consider this image.
How could you do this at home?
- Get upside down.
- Do cartwheels.
- Have a dance party – hey, even I like that!
How could you do this at school? Well, I ended up buying Tucker one of these…
(Bought from: http://www.physioroom.com/product/Gymnic_Disc_39_o_39_Sit_Wobble_Cushion_Junior_/2029/38410.html?currency_view=USD&gclid=CjwKEAjw2reiBRCaobK3udOj-Q4SJACXWyYm_41raQO4BF1nuKdl4WJjlyHUr9FuOSnYDkKXtVXmDBoCeRzw_wcB)
A Wobble Cushion.
I simply asked his teacher to give it a try-the cushion worked. I worked with the school staff and asked that if he was having troubles focusing, controlling himself, and interfering with classmates to let him walk down the hall. He was (and is) a rule follower, so all we had to do was give him parameters.
It worked. His need for movement was allowed, his learning was enhanced.
Win for him. Win for his teacher. Win for me.
_x_ in constant motion, can’t seem to sit still
_x_ craves fast, spinning, and/or intense movement experiences
__ loves being tossed in the air
__ could spin for hours and never appear to be dizzy
__ loves the fast, intense, and/or scary rides at amusement parks
_x_ always jumping on furniture, trampolines, spinning in a swivel chair, or getting into upside down positions
__ loves to swing as high as possible and for long periods of time
__ is a “thrill-seeker”; dangerous at times
__ always running, jumping, hopping etc. instead of walking
_x_ rocks body, shakes leg, or head while sitting
__ likes sudden or quick movements, such as, going over a big bump in the car or on a bike