Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Spinning

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!
Todays subject is:
When was the last time you spun? Did you do it accidentally or on purpose? Did you spin slow or fast? Were you dizzy? Does any of this matter?
Spinning is a fast way to feed our vestibular system the input it needs. The average person occasionally enjoys a good spin, especially if you are spinning with a baby or toddler who is giggling up a storm. People with a well regulated vestibular system will also get dizzy after a relatively short period of time.
This is why dancers and gymnasts, and skaters learn to "spot", keeping their eye on a fixed point or object until the last possible moment and then bringing that spot back into focus as quickly as possible. Their heads and eyes actually remain still while the body rotates until, WHIP, they rotate their head around and right back to the spot. This allows them to spin without getting overly dizzy.

Over, Under, and Round and Round

There are individuals who cannot handle spinning AT ALL. In fact if they simply turn their head too quickly to look in any direction it will make them so dizzy they may feel sick to their stomach, or develop a headache. They have an extremely over sensitive vestibular sense.
On the opposite end, there are some individuals who can spin for very large amounts of time and never appear dizzy. They enjoy and seek out activities that allow them to spin for long periods as it often is very soothing to them. In these ones their vestibular sense may be very under responsive. Unfortunately, sometimes other body systems may still be a little sensitive to so much spinning and the result for some may be "sudden" vomiting, or other problems after elongated spinning spells, but not for all.
Then some are spinners with balance, and coordination, and the drive to spin but the ability to know when to stop. They also can spin for long periods without getting dizzy, but usually are able to stop on their own before their body gets overloaded. But they have to spin, they are driven to spin.

Why is spinning good? 

The benefits of spinning depends on several things. Most important is the why. Why do some individuals, usually children, spin? There is a variety of reasons.
Perhaps it is a soothing mechanism. Or maybe they spin in order to shut out other sensory input that is overwhelming them. For others, it simply helps restore balance to the brain somehow, and can help them to be more attentive and alert after a spinning session. Or it can help some to calm down, again possibly because it can provide assistance to prepare the brain to organize input. Don't forget that sometimes it's also just plain FUN!
What ever the reasons, some people, especially some kids, just need to be able to spin sometimes. And they might need help in finding a safe way to do it so that they aren't crashing into people and things. And at times families may not be able to provide it at the frequency that a child might need just by visiting the tire swing or other spinning toys at the playground. Maybe your little pumpkin NEEDS to spin, but you MUST finish the spaghetti.
This was a place that our family was in for a long time. While our kiddos needs to spin are not nearly  asintense as some kids, it was enough for us to feel like we needed to provide them with a permanent way to safely spin in a controlled manner.

...and Round, and Round... 

After a lot of research we decided to invest in a spinning toy, hopefully one that lasts for several years at least! It was a great investment. As you have seen in our pictures in other posts, they use it a lot! Usually everyday, several times a day.
When Kit (17 months) is especially fussy and clingy for no other apparent reason, I will tell her, "Why don't you go spin." And she will run to the spinner and lay down on her tummy on it with a big grin. She loves it! I or the big kids gently give it a spin. When her rotations start to slow down she'll look at us and we give it another spin. When she's done she just slides off backwards and stops herself with her feet. She's even figured out that if she pushes herself up on her arms so that her face and head are reaching toward the ceiling that she spins faster and longer! Smarty pants!
Zak (10) really likes it too, though one of his favorite spinning activities involves holding a car to the floor as he spins so that the car is driving around in big circles as he rotates. I admire the cleverness of this, but while he thrives on the noise it creates, it sends me quickly into overload. I usually have to shut that one down if I'm not in a position to just leave the kitchen while he spins. Sometimes their seeking really clashes with my sensitivities. :(

Grace (6) enjoys it also, but she does get dizzy, and so she doesn't use it as much or for as long. Her favorite position is on her back with her legs pulled up close and holding on to the handles while Zak spins her. Her giggles when they do this are so contagious!
In conclusion, spinning can be a great way for some kids to meet their sensory needs. These were two of the videos that we found helpful in deciding which type of apparatus to purchase, in case you're interested.


I really wonder how many acrobats, flying trapeze artists, and maybe even ice skaters and plenty more athletes have sensory seeking tendencies. There are no greater jumpers, crashers, and wrestlers than trampoliners, football players, and, well, wrestlers! I see a lot of similarities in what really seems to get through to my kids brains in those activities. (Though mine are not allowed to play football. It's REALLY bad for kids brains to be banged around inside their skull, period!)

Okie dokie! Anyone up for Ring Around the Rosie?

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