World of play – movement and balance

Discover movement and balance

Our movement and balance section explores the ‘vestibular’ sense and why it’s so important to explore with your blind or partially sighted child.

Our movement and balance section explores the ‘vestibular’ sense and why it’s so important to explore with your blind or partially sighted child.

In your Sensory Discovery Pack!

In your Early Years Sensory Discovery Pack you’ll find an exercise ball, or for younger babies a tummy time roller, which can be inflated and explored with your child. There are lots of activities, uses and games you can play with these items that will help your child develop their vestibular sense.

Follow the link for more information on how to use the exercise ball/roller with your vision impaired child.

Why explore movement and balance with your vision impaired child?

The vestibular sense, summed up, is the sense of movement and balance. It is the very first one to develop in the womb and is responsible for controlling our muscles and some of our reflexes. The vestibular system is stimulated by movement and helps us to control our ‘postural tone’.  When a child lacks the ability to access their sight to assist with movements such as up and down, backwards and forwards, under and over, around and around, their vestibular sense is really going to come into play!

The lack of sight stimulation can have an impact on the vestibular sense, so it is very important to stimulate it in the appropriate manner which fits with your child’s individual needs. In terms of determining spatial awareness and orientation, the vestibular sense may compensate for what they lack in sight .

Many visually impaired children enjoy being rocked, spun around or bounced up and down. Playing in this way with your child can give them access to that sense of movement – the vestibular.

Navigating their surroundings as they grow older, without being to relay solely on their sight, is something we want our children to be able to do with confidence and enjoyment. Starting these skills early and helping them to know their position in the environment via this sense is very important to children who have a sight condition.

Getting started!

Get started from birth! Children of all ages can benefit from vestibular stimulation. Movement activates the vestibular system, and the vestibular system allows movement and participation in tasks. Some movements to consider when playing with your child are dancing, spinning, kneeling, crawling, tummy time, walking, bouncing or rocking.

You may find that your child is displaying these movements independently and by promoting these movements, by using certain toys or doing certain activities, you will help them to develop this sense and learn to regulate their systems more effectively.

This article from The OT Toolbox offers more explanation into vestibular activities:

Visit our links below for more ideas on activities you can try with your VI child. Have fun moving!

Exploring the vestibular sense

Lots of ideas on places you can visit and activities you can take part in to explore movement and balance with your child.

Sensory seeker or avoider?

In our videos we touch on the fact that your vision impaired child may be a sensory seeker or avoider. Not all of the suggested activities will work for your child and that’s ok! Find out more about sensory processing, your child and play.

Songs to move to

Action songs to help get your child moving and dancing.

Perfect toys for vestibular play

Our Early Years Sensory Discovery Pack is a great place to start, if you don’t have one already, you can apply for one by clicking here.

If you don’t have a pack or would like to add to it, our toy directory has lots of ideas and suggestions for toys you can purchase, or items you can just find around the house.

Find out more about the RNIB Toy Guide, toy lending libraries and finding a sensory room near you.