What is Gravitational Insecurity?

Gravitational insecurity refers to an excessive fear of ordinary movement, being out of an upright position, or having one’s feet off the ground. Children with this fear are uncomfortable with gravity, and their reactions are out of out of proportion to any real danger that exists or to any postural deficits the child may have.

What causes gravitational insecurity?

Gravitational insecurity is a form of over-responsiveness to vestibular sensations detected by the otolith organs. Otolith organs (located in the inner ear) detect linear movement through space and the pull of gravity. Gravitational insecurity is associated with poor otolithic vestibular processing.

How does the condition present itself?

Children with gravitational insecurity may display a fear of heights or be overwhelmed by changes in head position. Often they exhibit unwarranted fear, anxiety, or avoidance of stairs, elevators, high playground equipment, or uneven surfaces. These children tend to move slowly and carefully and may refuse to participate in gross motor activities.

How can I help treat my child’s condition?

Sensory Integration Therapy is commonly used to treat gravitational insecurity. By providing your child with graded vestibular information, he can learn to process information more effectively. Sensory experiences are introduced slowly and gradually so your child does not perceive these experiences negatively.

Our Approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our occupational therapists use a multisensory approach to help guide your child to explore his environment through stimulation of his vestibular system. This is accomplished by encouraging your child to climb, swing, jump, roll, and crawl—all things which shake his comfort zone a bit. We will create a “just right” challenge for your child, which allows him to gradually begin to participate in activities which he once found terrifying. We do not push your child; we simply encourage him in ways we are confident he can succeed.