A R T I C L E 9 : V E S T I B U L A R A N D O L F A C T O R Y S Y S T E M : A U T I S M
AUTISM EDGE SERIES I am very excited to share this series with you. Autism Edge was born through the journey I have embarked gathering insight and knowledge along the way. I would love to share what I have learnt in the last 6 years with you.
In this weeks article we are diving into the vestibular system as well as die olfactory system and how it links with autism. The vestibular system is our balance sense. Receiving information when our head move and change direction. Our head move up and down, side to side and in at different angles facing forward. This movement gives information to our vestibular system, which assist our brain to know where we are in space and how fast or slow we are moving.
This is important to support the following: Balance, postural control and behavior, muscle tone, spatial orientation, alertness and eye movements. Sensitivity to vestibular sensory input can result in a few behavior characteristics like to avoid playing or going on any type of swing or slides. Afraid of using elevators, avoid having head tipped back, or even getting car sick.
Children that is looking for vestibular input is searching for objects that will copy the movements that will give them the input like rocking in their chairs back and forth, swings, slides and any fast movements they an create. Slow reactions to vestibular sensory input can lead to the child bumping into objects, falling over objects easily, losing balance unexpectedly, poor muscle tone and appearing to be clumsy.
When there is dysregulations in the vestibular system the child can behave in a manner where they show fearfulness or impulsiveness in their daily activities. The vestibular system can be strengthened.The following activities can be introduced and practiced: bouncing using a mini trampoline or in a hammock, spin in a rocking chair, any object for them to hang upside down like monkey bars.
Many children on the autism spectrum show sensory irregularities, which appear as sensitivities, under-responsiveness and/or sensory-seeking behaviors as we have mentioned in last week's article. This also include the sense of smell. Some people are more sensitive to smells, others are less sensitive to smells. We perceive the world around us differently and therefor change our experiences. Children with autism it affects daily life and social interactions.
For children who are very sensitive to smells to the point that they notice smells that others don’t, moving into a shopping mall might be unbearable. Children that is less sensitive might be disinterested in food leading to eating difficulty. Recognizing these issues will help to practice specific sensory activities to avoid certain social behavior difficulties. Make children aware about smell. A way to introduce is for family and friends to play "What am I smelling?" games at home.
Essential oils are also a great way to introduce different smells as well as aiding in health. There are 11 essential oils that can be used for children with autism including tea tree, cedarwood, lavender and vetiver to name a few. Each essential oil have different purposes according to your child's needs.
You can use these oils in a therapy manner by starting with 3 essential oils for the week for example that can help in memory and activating the brain through the sense of smell.
Have a lookout on our Facebook page on how to stimulate both these aspects or get in contact with us to enroll for our Autism Edge Program.