Vestibular System and Language Disorders

What is it?

The system that monitors our sense of balance and equilibrium.

How can it impact on communication?

In addition to poor balance, children with vestibular difficulties may display limited eye contact and attention during tasks which place high demands on their vestibular system. They may find it difficult to attend when they are required to regularly re-focus (e.g. looking from the board to desk repeatedly). They may also find it challenging to look up and maintain balance at the same time. This can lead to reduced eye contact in situations such as looking up to an adult, and may also lead to difficulty attending during activities such as sitting on the carpet and looking up to an adult reading a story.

What can you do to help?

Minimise demands by getting down to the child’s level to establish eye contact before speaking, and minimising the need for them to look up or constantly re-focus. Often, lying prone on the floor and resting elbows is a posture in which children can maintain visual attention with relative ease.

If concerned, seek input from a Physiotherapist.

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