SPD Information Symptoms Impact on the Senses

Impact on the Senses

The Vestibular (Balance and Movement) Sense

Overview of the Vestibular Sense

As one of the 'near' senses, the vestibular sense is responsible for detecting or movement through space, and the position of our head. The input comes from within the head itself, as part of what is known as the inner ear. It is intended to correctly identify for us which direction we are facing, the direction we are going, the angle our head is at, and even whether we are upside down or right-side up.

For someone with a well functioning vestibular sense, these internal tasks are performed effortlessly for them. They will not be overly afraid of falling, but they will have the internal balance to remind them that their feet are planted firmly on the ground. Their world is usually flat, stable, and easy to figure out. While they may enjoy a good amusement park ride, they won't be easily sickened by it or feel the need to ride all day. They won't usually have a history of motion sickness in cars, boats, planes, or elevators either. They will also have the internal drive to be up and active throughout their day.

Vestibular Defensiveness

For those with vestibular defensiveness, the world can be pretty overwhelming. The slightest movement or change in head position can be unnerving. This makes physical activities often unattractive to them, making them appear lazy or weak. They may have a tendency to experience dizziness or motion sickness, as the movement of a car, boat, plane, amusement park ride, elevator, or escalator may be very agitating for them. They often have a fear of heights as they are gravitationally insecure, and are overly anxious about falling, as they feel unstable on their own feet. They may frequently lean on objects to reassure themselves they won't fall.

Vestibular Under-Responsiveness

When a person is under-responsive to vestibular sensations, they may have a hard time even knowing where their head is positioned, and where they are in space. They may not object to being moved, and will not likely experience difficulty with spinning or other forms of movement, unless they also have vestibular defensiveness. They may also not even know when they are falling, and be unlikely to try to protect themselves by putting their arms out, which should be virtually an instinct.

Vestibular Seeking

Vestibular seekers are chronically craving movement. They often love to spin and rock, and are often roller coaster enthusiasts. Some choose to engage in even more dangerous activities, such as extreme sports. This constant search of motion often leads to a diagnosis, be it accurate or not, for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Vestibular Discrimination Disorder

Those with vestibular discrimination issues will have difficulty interpreting what their inner ear is telling them about their position in space. They may not be able to tell which direction they are facing, whether they are standing, laying on their side, or even hanging upside down without visual cues. They rely on other senses to cover for their inability to determine where they are. They may also be thrown off by movement activities, as they are unable to gauge their own movements.