Day #50 – Overcoming Fear to Trust

While I already wrote about Tucker’s struggle with his vestibular system (Day #18 – The Turtle and The Hare, Part I),  there will be much more writing in the coming months.  Peruse the list below and it is obvious that we struggle with being hyper-vestibular.  Tucker still moves a lot (constantly, really) – but he certainly does not take chances.  At this point in his life, we are challenged by nearly ever factor listed.

When a child is experiencing ‘over’ response to their vestibular system, they simply prefer sedentary activities because movement can (and does) overwhelm them.  The child is experiencing an overload of the vestibular system, therefore they avoid movement and unstable surfaces.  Does your child struggle with car sickness?  If so, they most likely have been inundated by their vestibular system.

Too much movement to concentrate.

An example…



Tucker was three and we were in Younkers.  It was his first time on an escalator – and at this point, I didn’t know anything was unique about my sweet boy.

We walk up to the escalator.  When we arrive at the base of it, I simply tell him to step with me.

He won’t.

Again, I tell him to just step on.

He won’t…not like he’s just a stubborn toddler.

He WILL NOT do it.

He is screaming.

The line of people are piling behind us.  I’m sweating.  I’m stressed.

Internal thoughts:

Why he just won’t step onto the *#&^ escalator!  I mean seriously…what is the big deal?!?!  Get on the *$^# escalator!  

The people.  The people are….





I’m sweating. I’m stressed.

Finally, I pick him up.  He screams ALL THE WAY up the escalator.  We get to the top, I sit away from the elevator and hold him tightly until he calms.  We shop.  Then head back to the escalator.

He screams ALL THE WAY down the escalator.

At the time I just thought it was this weird ‘thing’ that he had…now I get it.  Look at the list below…

  • his feet are off the ground
  • there is a chance of falling
  • he has no control over the movement
  • he is fearful of going up/down stairs
  • the movement is rapid
  • he has to balance on the step

Jeepers – no wonder this was awful.  Yep, it all makes sense. He still pauses and hesitates at escalators, he still waits for to quietly say ‘step.’  He still takes a couple extra seconds.  He still prefers to stand on the same ‘step’ with me.  He still stares at me instead of looking up or down.

The challenge of helping Tucker rev up his vestibular system is that first we have to conquer fear and develop trust.  Once you have Tucker’s trust, there is no turning back.  At the same time, the minute you break that trust?  You have lost him, for good.

How did we get there?  Love, patience, and practice…

Checklist (from:

_x_avoids/dislikes playground equipment; i.e., swings, ladders, slides, or merry-go-rounds

_x_ prefers sedentary tasks, moves slowly and cautiously, avoids taking risks, and may appear “wimpy”

_x_ avoids/dislikes elevators and escalators; may prefer sitting while they are on them or, actually get motion sickness from them

_x_ may physically cling to an adult they trust

_x_ may appear terrified of falling even when there is no real risk of it

_x_ afraid of heights, even the height of a curb or step

_x_ fearful of feet leaving the ground

_x_ fearful of going up or down stairs or walking on uneven surfaces

_x_ afraid of being tipped upside down, sideways or backwards; will strongly resist getting hair washed over the sink

__ startles if someone else moves them; i.e., pushing his/her chair closer to the table

_x_ as an infant, may never have liked baby swings or jumpers

_x_ may be fearful of, and have difficulty riding a bike, jumping, hopping, or balancing on one foot (especially if eyes are closed)

__ may have disliked being placed on stomach as an infant

_x_ loses balance easily and may appear clumsy

_x_ fearful of activities which require good balance

_x_ avoids rapid or rotating movements


14 thoughts on “Day #50 – Overcoming Fear to Trust

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  8. Ian has trouble sleeping and eating.
    He lays down 2-3 hours,without being able to go to sleep. Most of the times I am able to keep up with him, rubbing his head,singing to him…but sometimes I couldn’t. Last night, he had a ‘meltdown’. Maybe he was so frustrated he cried. It was so heartbreaking!!
    He used to be a bit picky on food but eats several kinds of veggies,which I thought was pretty good compared to other kids. Now he goes on nothing but milo drinks, cupcakes, French fries, without any respect on schedules. I mean, he drinks milo when he wakes up, cupcake or crackers after 6-7 hrs…
    These has been going on for more than two months now.
    What should I do?


    • My advice? Schedule, schedule, schedule. There was a 2-3 period in my life that I didn’t have a life – because everything had to be so scheduled. I had to get Tucker to a good place with his schedule before I could teach him anything. Lots of folks try melatonin or natural oils. We’ve never had to do that, but I would have never been opposed. Sleep is SO important for their brains…without that sleep they really struggle. For food I wonder what is bothering him – is it texture? taste? temperature? There has been some change and the difficulty is trying lots of different things to try to find a pattern. Once you find the pattern you can *hopefully* change it!


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