Sensory Integration and Vestibular Processing: Why Is It So Critical?

By Zoe Mailloux, MA., OTR, Director, Pediatric Therapy Network, Torrance, CA Sensory integration and vestibular processing:  Of all the sensory systems that we talk about in sensory integration theory and treatment, the one that may be the most basic, yet the hardest to understand is the vestibular sense. This sensory system develops just a few weeks after conception and plays a very important role in a child’s early development.  It was also probably one of the most important senses for our evolutionary ancestors. However, the vestibular sense is not familiar to many people. Children do not learn about it when they learn about the basic sensory systems and if adults know about this system, they may only be aware that it has something to do with balance. Understanding more about the vestibular system will be helpful to a better understanding of the types of problems children may have as well as the methods we use to address these problems. As we…

The Vestibular System and Auditory Language Processing

By Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.  Excerpted from The Out-of-Sync Child: Understanding and Coping With Sensory Integration Dysfunction The vestibular system and auditory language processing: Children with vestibular dysfunction may also have auditory language processing problems. As they research their child’s disability, many parents learn about sensory integration and the importance of the body’s vestibular system, perhaps the most basic of all the sensory systems. Initially they learn that the vestibular system coordinates body movements, maintains balance and equilibrium, and helps children develop normal muscle tone. It is not as immediately apparent, though, how the vestibular system influences auditory language processing.  However, the vestibular system plays a significant role in the development of language, so that children with vestibular dysfunction may also have auditory language processing problems. It’s important to realize that the vestibular and auditory systems work together as they process sensations of movement and sound.  These sensations are closely intertwined, because they both begin to be processed in the receptors…

Auditory Training

This article was adapted from brochures available from the IDEA Training Center & the Spectrum Center www.spectrumcenter.com, two excellent sources of auditory training. Who Needs It? Many children with developmental delays initially present as having poor or non-existent speech and language skills. Their medical histories show frequent ear infections, no hand dominance, sound sensitivity, and avoidance of certain types of touch and movement. Candidates for auditory integration training include individuals with learning and language disorders, attention deficits, pervasive developmental disorders, autism, central auditory processing problems and sound sensitivity. Under-reactivity is also seen with some children craving sensory input such as spinning and “rough­housing.”   Behaviors in these individuals are unpredictable; parents, teachers and friends are overwhelmed by poor toler­ance for frustration, temper tantrums, shyness, or aggression that appears unprovoked.   These are all secondary signs of one possible cause which is neuro-physiological. What Is It? The ear has a function that is even more primary that hearing; listening.  Listening requires the coordination…