By improving how well the vesitbular and proprioceptive systems work, organization, time management and focus increase.

Vestibular System

Vestibular exercises focus on improving balance and gaining an understanding of how much space your body takes up as well as a grasp of spatial awareness concepts (like under, over, up, down, etc.).
These exercises are good for younger children:

  • Dancing
  • Swinging
  • Playing catch
  • Summersaults
  • Playing hopscotch
  • Using a hula hoop
  • Playing marching band
  • Standard crawling on all fours
  • Singing songs with rhythmic hand movements
  • Playing “matador” with a blanket that the child runs through like a (friendly) charging bull
  • Crab walking (performed by sitting on the ground with knees bend and palms down, the the hips are raised off the floor and the child crawls in a tummy-facing-up position)

These exercises are geared for older children:

  • Using a therapy ball as a seated surface
  • Balancing on a low balance beam
  • Practicing martial arts
  • Skateboarding
  • Using a swing
  • Riding a bike
  • Snow skiing
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Dancing

Of course, all these exercises are good for the vestibular system. You could use some of the exercises that young children enjoy to create a crazy relay race or obstacle course for older unique learners.

It is very important that you keep in mind that unique learners benefit from PE and recess. PE and recess should not be considered as a reward but as a usual and necessary part of the academic curriculum. When your child is at home, “Go outside and play” is still a very, very important part of your child’s day.

Tick Tock – Time Strategies

Unique learners often don’t have a good internal sense of time. They need practical ways to connect time to the every day activities of their lives.

The Timer Strategy – For Teenage and Adult Unique Learners

Use a timer, such as a simple kitchen timer, throughout the day to notice how much time day-to-day activities require. Meal preparation, the morning shower, dressing and make-up routines can all be used as training strategies for appreciating a sense of time.

For older unique learners, using the timer on their cell phone while driving can improve accuracy in anticipating the length of time necessary to drive from one location to another. The high school student could use the same method to understand how much time it takes to leave one class, stop by their locker and walk to the next class. Arriving on time is necessary for jobs, classes and other responsibilities.

The Timer Strategy – For Younger Unique Learners

Help your young unique learner improve their sense of time and space by using a timer for age appropriate tasks. This can include brushing teeth, playing a desired game and completing an age appropriate task (such as putting napkins at each place on the table).

For the hyperactive child, the tendency will be to go as fast as possible. Use this natural tendency to first encourage your child to see how fast they can do something. Then instruct them to try to do it more slowly.

Check the timer or stopwatch and develop a high-five system of reward to build on a spirit of play. Eventually require your child or student to complete the task correctly in the time provided, not finishing too early or too late. We are working on instilling a sense of time.

The Clock Strategy

Begin by helping your unique learner to think about the clocks that are used for this exercise as only giving objective feedback, with no right or wrong. During this exercise, there are no expectations regarding outcome.

Encourage your unique learner to take a big breath at any point that they start to feel an emotional or physical response. Breathing exercises and positive affirmations can be utilized to counter any nonproductive thinking. (Get those exercises HERE and HERE.)

Improvement is not the goal here. Rather, time awareness and the ability to become sensitive to time is the ultimate outcome.

Help your unique learner understand that the goal isn’t to accomplish more and more within a smaller and smaller timeframe. Recognize that in older unique learners, their focus will be on fast “improvement”. This is what has been conveyed to them for years.

Make sure you convey the goal of becoming “friends” with the clock. This means concentrating on using time as an interesting guide leading to enhanced life satisfaction. By focusing on this idea, you can help your unique learner develop a calm acceptance of clocks and the use of time.

Read the organization article HERE.

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Suzanne Cresswell Administrator
Suzanne Cresswell is an occupational and physical therapist who has worked with unique learners for over three decades. Suzanne works to educate and provide proven solutions and strategies to those that parent, instruct and work with unique learners. By creating an understanding of unique learners and their learning behavior, she helps parents, teachers and the students themselves find the ability in learning disability.
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