Elizabeth likes to take selfies whilst upside down!
She’s so beautiful but many of my ‘right-way-up’ pictures don’t show her at her best because her posed smile is not a natural one. My many upside down pictures are the ones I especially cherish because she is so happy!
Wanting to be upside down is a ‘symptom’ of sensory processing disorder. If your child has SPD and likes to turn upside down, that’s great because it shows that they have worked out how to regulate themselves!
Hanging upside down gives Elizabeth much needed vestibular input which helps her brain to organise all the sensory stimulation she is receiving. She had just been sitting quietly making this:
so she obviously felt she needed to do something physically to combat feelings of fidgetiness (is that even a word?) and stress caused by being still.
The vestibular system is the inner ear system. That’s what causes car-sickness…you can see that you are moving when you look out of the window, but your body is telling you you are not moving, so your brain gets muddled when trying to process the conflicting sensations. The vestibular system gives us information about where our bodies are in relation to the ground. It helps our balance and movement so if it is under-responsive it effects the way other senses are organised and sensations will be inconsistent and inaccurate causing behaviour and attention problems. Turning upside down stimulates the vestibular (inner ear) system in a similar way to rocking or swinging. Remember rocking your baby to sleep? It calms the child by stimulating their vestibular system. That’s why people with sensory processing disorders like to rock, swing, go upside down and spin. They are self-stimulating (or ‘stimming’) in order to calm themselves down in a stressful situation.