Vestibular system and its impact on learning and academics: S1 E7

Vestibular system and its impact on learning and academics: S1 E7

Cheri Dotterer 0:03
See belief system is not working effectively. Learning is not going

Jonily 0:07
to Hello, and welcome to the tier one interventions podcast, where we share with you tips, techniques and strategies to strengthen your for the book classroom that is, without a poor classroom, we cannot thrive. Learn how to create an inclusive climate and culture and environment in the regular tier one core classroom through collaboration of the regular classroom teacher, intervention specialists, instructional coach, occupational therapist and other direct service providers. Through this collaboration, we can blend our expertise to maximize learning for all students, and specifically students with learning disabilities, we can also eliminate the number of students needing tier two and tier three pullout I interviewed today to welcome you to our opening idea of Denton, Anna, the vestibular system who doesn't want to hear about that, right. Last time we talked, Sherry talked much about proprioception, these back end body brains and emotional, mental, cognitive, physical aspects that students need to maintain and regulate before they have access to learning. So Sherry is going to start us off today and answer how does the vestibular system impact create learning strong core, welcome sherry. And take it away just

Cheri Dotterer 1:53
that discussion. We have more than five senses, we have three additional senses that you don't know necessarily think about. One of them is proprioception, and that is the receptors in your muscle spindle, Golgi tendon organs. And, and joint capsules, those messages get sent to the brain. And if you use the knee, which is a simple hinge joint, what what's going on inside the knee, how much pressure think about running, you've run you put pressure on your knee, you've released the pressure, you put pressure back on you release it. But not only that, but you've got to move your foot a little bit back and forth. How much pressure does it take to keep your knees stable, to go back and forth while you're in the process of running. Every joining your body is worked while you're running. Every joining your body is works when you're hitting a baseball. Every joint in your body is working right now as you're sitting in a chair. Or if you're traveling while you're here, this as a podcast episode it while you're sitting in your car seat, and your hands might be on the wheel, moving your hands back and forth on the wheel and the control that you need to muster to not move too far to stay in your lane or move enough to get over into the next lane. That is part of proprioception. Now, we added movement when we get into a car. So what I want you to do right now, okay, if you're driving, please don't do this. Okay, those of you who are watching us live today on Zoom. I want you to do me a favor. I want you to stand up right now. Do you have earbuds handy? You're gonna want to have your earbuds handy because you want your ears closed, close your eyes. Now, I want you to move your head toward the ceiling toward the floor as fast as you can tend to rise as I have the conversation here for you guys on the podcast. But I want those of you to respond that we're moving your head. You can get closer to your mic so that we can hear you. What did you feel by doing

Jonily 4:14
that? Perfect. I was actually going to jump in. I had to stop after about seven. I wasn't sure where I was losing balance a little bit. I've had some bouts of vertigo. And so that movement I was like whoa, okay, I need to stop and just reengage in just regular. It was a lot. This is what I want to say. Yeah.

Cheri Dotterer 4:35
How about you Christian? I

Speaker 1 4:36
felt it a lot in my neck a lot of pressure in my neck. And I kept wanting to try to open my eyes because I didn't know my orientation was a little off.

Speaker 2 4:45
Dizzy and back up my neck. Yes. I'm

Teresa 4:50
an OT. I know how to do this stuff. So I've done it a million times and it doesn't bother me

Speaker 3 4:56
adrift and disoriented. I didn't like not having all All

Cheri Dotterer 5:00
my others gonna do another activity, I'm going to have you put your thumb out in front of you, and what you'd be looking at your thumbnail right in front of your nose, looking at your pan back and forth. When you lose focus of your thumb,

Jonily 5:16
that one was actually a little easier. I think for me, I don't know if I was focusing more or concentrating more. I don't know, I don't know the secrets behind this. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do. Yeah, I'm curious. Like when Theresa said, I'm the occupational therapist. And so I know,

Speaker 4 5:36
here my neck moving, and that kept distracting me. I'm with her I can hear but I also feel like I have like, neck issues at times. But then I did still feel like Off Balanced and dizzy, right?

Speaker 1 5:51
Oh, my neck more. I heard it. When we did the up and down. I heard mine. But I felt it more now. And yeah, I was afraid to like not see my thumb because I thought I was gonna get too dizzy. So I was very careful about keeping my thumb in my view

Jonily 6:05
at 75 models. So I'm getting older, it's I'm hearing all the joints in the

Speaker 2 6:13
soul old 75 model is struggling over hearing of the neck. But then also, I'm glad I was sitting down because I feel like I was more unbalanced. Doing it side to side rather than watched or heard about

Teresa 6:27
skaters are told when they're doing spins to find a point on the wall to stop them from having any problems when they do their spins. And that's why your fingers there so that you don't you have a focus point so that you don't get dizzy when you do that. So that's why it's probably a little better when we put our finger there. So we have a focus point. That's why we're less we've all had those problems during that what Teresa,

Jonily 6:52
I didn't think about this, and I should have known this. I'm a dancer, I grew up dancing. And same thing. When we do spins and dancing. You're supposed to find that point on. I know that naturally. And maybe that's why this was easier. That is some great insight I should have thought about. There's also

Cheri Dotterer 7:08
something else that was different. Let the first time I had you close your ears and your eyes. Second time your eyes and your ears were open. But your vestibular system has four focal points. First one says vestibular ocular. Let's break it down vestibular and ocular. Where are we We're going to be eyes. Vestibular colic, but that's the the ear and it's attached inside the inner ear. Vestibular spinal, that's the cracking and carrying on of the arthritis that goes along with the fact that our body needs to move. So what you're feeling there is more of the arthritis. But it's a result of the whole system working together with that reflex. And then there's this vestibular Cerebella. And I keep talking about this organ in your brain called the cerebellum. And there's a connection to that cerebellum, and that is going to talk a little bit about movement. Before I go back, and I show you some images of the vestibular system today, I just wanted to really let you be aware that the vestibular system affects a lot of what kids are doing while they're engaging in their academics. If it's affecting your eyes, it's affecting your head movement up and down. What are kids doing all day long, moving your head up and down. They're reading notes from the board, writing notes from the board. Their vestibular says system is not working effectively, what happens is their eyes have to find where they were up on the board. And then when they get back on the paper, their eyes have to figure out where they were on the paper. Their system gets confused and it can't find it. That's why OTS do a lot of activities on swings or bouncing on on balls of many different varieties. That's why we do that to help stimulate that system and help complete the circuit. Now we also went left to what activity do your eyes do left right all day long.

Unknown Speaker 9:41
Treasuries writing reading

Cheri Dotterer 9:43
and writing if they're having trouble with their head moving left, what's gonna happen they're not going to know what line they go to next. Now, that's to say like their head is moving and their eyes are moving all as a unit what Part of the vestibular system is doing is being able to isolate the eyes. Now they're supposed to work as a team. But you need to go from moving your whole head to being able to move your eyes to the left, move your eyes to the right. So try that right now where you're just like really concentrating on holding your head still move your eyes, left and right, how quickly do they fatigue? Is it like one or two times? Or is it more like 10 or 15. Just moving your eyes left to right. It's different. And depending on where your head is tilted, it's going to make a difference as to how quickly our eyes get tired. Okay? Because your vestibular system is working really hard to keep your head at neutral. Reading is affected writing is affected, which means that math is going to be affected because you're going to be having to go left to right to do anything. And up and down with anything with math as well. So all academics are affected by the vestibular system. And all we talked about is the eyes. Now add a little bit of noise. How many of you can hear the fan? in your classroom? Janet? Yes, yes. It's distracting, isn't it? It makes things awkward. For students as well add a system that this vestibular system isn't growing effectively. You end up with behaviors as a result of it because they've got this hyper filtered sensory system that doesn't want to stop inhibiting that sound from getting in the way. Auditory noises when I was in elementary school, my maiden name began with why and at that time, and that's I'm a before you a 1975 model. I'm in 1964 model. Okay, I was in school while you were a baby. We're getting clapped ahead, here see this?

Jonily 12:22
Sure. You can tell me everything. That's your

Cheri Dotterer 12:24
model year because mine is very similar. And oh, got distracted by that the model year. Okay.

Jonily 12:34
What was I talking about in elementary school? I know, share. It's interesting. Can I tell a story about you, Sherry? Sure. Sherry is such an expert at this, because she has experienced all of this. And you can correct me if I'm wrong, Sherry. But I know that the struggles that you have gotten. And this is a perfect example. And this is a perfect example of what our kids are trying to regulate in our classrooms. And that is to really maintain that sort of linear systemic focus, as they're trying to access learning with all of these other distractions and noises and system ear regulations. So what you've just witnessed is a an example of that. And Sherry has first hand experience, and then through her life has studied why. And she's now sharing that with us. And I probably didn't say it beautifully enough. But to answer your question, Sherry, your last name was y and when you were in school is where we like you. And

Cheri Dotterer 13:49
I got a chat thing that was telling my maiden name began with y. So yes, my brain today began with why and in those days, they always put you in alphabetical order in the classroom. I have a vision loss because I'm very nearsighted. I can still get corrected, but it won't be long before I'm going to have trouble even with corrective lenses. So I'm just grateful that up until this point in my life that I still can wear corrective lenses. And for that reason, I can never see the board and it wasn't necessarily my vestibular system. It was my literally my ocular system being very out of joint as they might not really have a joint but out of sequence. But I do know that when I go to look at a board and then I go to read, I have a very difficult time reading. I am much better at looking up at the board and being able to process things are bigger. When I go to read my eyes fatigue very quickly That's something that you have to be aware of with kids what's happening and they don't even realize it, all they know is they have to keep blinking, being very obnoxious with the blinking. For those of you are listening to us and not seeing anything, it's frustrating for the kids because they don't understand. It only took me almost six years to figure out what was happening when I was in. And I target fifth grade, because there was a big change in the classroom. And one of the things that was happening in the world of education was whole classroom, big classroom environment with dividers between the classrooms. Big mistake for me, okay. Letter begins with the letter, why big classroom, have trouble focusing on the board, because I'm too far away, and I can't see it, have trouble with reading. So I look down at the book, and all I see is white and black lines, what's gonna do anything that I can do the not engage in the classroom? Okay, dog barking outside. Teacher over in the other room getting all excited was going on, I think about this with our kids. And I'm really grateful that they went back to classrooms that were basically one room, and the other rooms were shielded away, many of you keep your doors open while you're teaching. I know some of the regulations are changing with lockdown and such. But when you have that door open, and you're teaching versus that door closed, there's a big difference in the response for the kids as well isn't there, that distraction of the noise outside what's going on. So it's better to have the door closed while you're teaching, but it's not necessary. But if you've got a bunch of kids in the classroom who are struggling, they're going to do what they can to dis regulate this and just not pay attention. So as far as the vestibular system goes, we've got the eyes, we've got the ears, we've talked about the connection there, I'm going to share with you this one with a vestibular system. Let's say we start off here with the eyes, the thing that the vestibular system is doing is it's connecting to the muscles in the eye, you have a muscle on the top and the bottom, you have muscles on the left in the right, and then you've got muscles that kind of let you go on an angle. So I'm going to have you stop and want you to try to go with your eyes top bottom left, top to bottom left as fast as you can. That's a little different feeling, then going side to side, and then top left, bottom right that way. But we need to be able to do that diagonal movement. Because if we don't have that ability to do that diagonal movement, we're going to have difficult time reading because you go on a diagonal, go to the next line read across, diagonally down. So if the eye muscles aren't working, you're gonna get a lot of other behaviors with your eyes that OTS or if you see some kiddos that are struggling with the focus of their eyes, make sure you refer to OT just do it don't hesitate. Then we have the ears. And this is where it's cat attaches to the semicircular canals. Everybody knows, everybody heard of those semicircular canals, inside your inner ear are a bunch of canals that help with the equilibrium that help keep your your body where it's supposed to be your head vertical from the ground, there in the inner ear, from the inner ear. And from the eyes, all the messages head to the brainstem, in the brainstem, the message that is are coming from the rest of your sensory system are starting to mingle there. And they go up to this chamber up in the Olympic system. And in that chamber is where the filter gets a little bit more detailed. So I'm going to switch subjects just a little bit. But I'm gonna go back then to the vestibular if I can keep my linear brain working in multiple levels and layers of education here. Those kids that are bothered by the tag in their shirt. They get to that filtering system and the filter lets that awareness of the tag filter up into their cognition. That filter system isn't working correctly when a filter system isn't working correctly for that it's probably not working correctly for The vestibular system as well. So the movement that's your body's doing, it moves up into that chamber. Is it letting too much information go further? Or is it stopping it? Or is it not letting enough go through, because it's trying to protect your head. And then we have those kids who want to simulate more, because their cognitive aspects are going to play man, I'm not getting enough information here. Their lower parts of their brain are going, but I'm trying to protect you, you're doing things that aren't good. So this constant flow back and forth, is what brings on those vestibular behaviors that Celer cerebellum that part back here in the brain, it's the cerebellar system, refines movement. And the new information that's coming out about the vestibular system, it also affects memory and learning a similar system is not working effectively, learning is not going to happen. If the vestibular system is not working correctly, learning is not going to happen. From there, the information goes back into the filter before it adds up to the cognitive level, the vestibular system impacts the making associations to images and in the temporal lobe response and interpretation of what they're hearing. It goes to A or A organ right next to the motor cortex, we talked about the motor cortex in it last time, this is the little strip of your brain right next to it, then it gets the motor cortex heads over to the frontal lobe. And this particular system is really heavily regulated by your prefrontal cortex, which regulates your executive function. We just hit those executive function. What is that going to do? You've keep hearing about these executive functions. And think about it though, if the system is dysregulated. What is going to happen to the brain? We're going to get too much or too little vestibular movement response, Amy, you're in a first grade classroom? Are you thinking of one kid in particular right now? Who you're going? Oh, now I understand a little bit more, or am I losing

Speaker 4 22:38
with everything you've been talking about? I've got one that requires a lot of body movement. Another one where I was like, Oh, we're trying to tee some things out. And I'm wondering about the what you were talking about for the i i have a few that I'm my mind's just racing right now.

Cheri Dotterer 22:59
Try next to help you process. So what are you seeing? Are you seeing a lot of up, down up down? Are you seeing a lot of slouch and move forward? Or are you seeing a lot of what's going on? I can't find my place. What's going on? I can't find my gender,

Speaker 4 23:19
though. Not sure where we are not

Cheri Dotterer 23:25
slouching, not sure where we are. One of the things that could be happening in their system is they've got other reflexes in addition to the vestibular system that won't let them touch the back of the chair. So if you touch your the smaller your back, either your thoracic or your lumbar spine, there's two different ones that go with that, that. And as soon as you touch it, what you're going to do is you're going to stand up, we've got one, and that is a primitive that's supposed to be integrated into your system in your first year of life. It never happened. So now, every time something touches their back, they're standing up. There are kids that don't like to be hugged. Because as soon as you hug them, they're like this. I don't like that. There might be more going on. And that's where the occupational therapist in your classrooms are going to be able to take a look and see more of what might be going on. But if you've got kids who are constantly wanting that vertical movement, the best remedy for movement is proprioception. The best remedy for movement is proprioception. Best remedy to help kids that have a vestibular system that's not working. They probably also don't have a proprioceptive system that's not working and the proprioception is the foundation Teresa, I'm gonna head over to you, is there anything now that you'd like to add to the conversation?

Teresa 25:05
Like she said, I would do deep pressure, like wall push ups before they sat down. If they don't want to sit, invert the chair the other way. Have them if you can, if it's a single chair that you could turn the other direction, have them turn the chair or desk sometimes connected. But if you can turn the chair the other direction and have them straddle the chair, what about putting

Cheri Dotterer 25:28
things between the rungs of the back and sit with just the the chair at their chest, with their legs inside, rather than struggle on the outside, if you can, depending on a kid, it may or may not

Teresa 25:43
work, while chairs put ball seats stools, I actually believe it or not, but I have a semicircle table, I have stools all around my table. That's what my kids sit on. And I have adjustable stools so that if they needed it, I could pull out pieces, or I can't go any higher. They're all at the height. But I have stools for all my kids. And the rubber bands. Yes, Kirk, I have that too. I actually give them to my kid and I have a little girl, she actually needs it for to keep her feet up. But there's the band's you can put on the chairs as well. But and if you don't have if a lot of places don't have the cushions, you could even take a binder. But if they have a problem sitting if you try them the binder, either direction, the slope sometimes in the seat, so you can wait for slope or the gentleman back. So you can turn the slope either direction. Try it either way. Can you picture it Jonily The slope going down, because your pelvis sometimes dictates how you sit because a lot of the kids sometimes it's low tone, if you think about it, they may just not be able to hold themselves upright to it could that could be a problem that because of their they could just be low tone in their core, they may need to have

Speaker 4 26:58
I had one, I have one that's been using a slant board, I would stick

Teresa 27:02
something hard in the middle of it, and then tape it. So you can you know what I'm saying reinforced the center because you don't have those binders. They have nothing. Yeah, they're soggy. If you put something in the middle of it, and then maybe tape over it, then they can use that as a makeshift binder. You don't have to go out and spend the money if you have the two inch binders in your building, instead do that. But they can even sit on those kind of wrap it up. And then they can sit on those as well. Another thing is you notice porcupine cushions, I've had some kids stand on, some kids love to sit on them because they love the spine ease. They love, love love to sit on them. And you'd be some Yes, you'd be surprised. I actually have harder ones. But the kids I don't know what it is they just love the pressure of those to sit on them. And then allow kids like Chevy will say to you to to stand, to kneel, to be on their bellies, I actually did a lesson where I took Sherry's the one who suggested it, I bought those interlocking puzzle pieces, the tiles, and I had a group of kindergarteners, some sat at the table with their on their computers, they have to do so much computer time in lessons. So some sat at their desks. And the other ones went on their bellies with the laptops down on the floor. But it was sharing I took pictures of it send it to sharing. So I had some sitting at the table. And some were on their bellies doing the same work that the other ones were doing, but they were shifting positions. So it depends because if they couldn't sit still on the desk, but they were on their elbows and they were shifting and giving themselves different body movements by sitting on their doing on elbows, I tell teachers all the time, there's no reason you can't do writing or, or anything on their bellies in that position as well. Especially first grade to even have it as a station where Okay, so you're gonna guys are going to be here doing it on your bellies, give them a clipboard, go on their bellies on the clipboard. And that's right, the room or something, they can do that much what's

Cheri Dotterer 28:55
underneath them. carpet squares are great. Those foam things are great. But if you've have a kid who has a sensory issue that the carpet squares are irritating, or they might have a latex it issue and you have to prevent that. Keep a sheet available that they can lay the sheet down and lay on the sheet sheets very easy to do. What are your thoughts

Jonily 29:24
on nap mats? For preschools that have those nap mat they

Cheri Dotterer 29:29
would work and especially if they have that those nap mats that have the little bolster on the top for their head that they can put that bolster right about here across their chest and give their chest just a little extra support. Their elbows then go out on the floor on the opposite on the over the bolster and that way they can right. So yoga mats are great too. yoga mats can be thin and not give enough cushion for some kids. A lot of The other areas that go along with the vestibular system, that is why recess is so important. Running, jumping, squatting, all those exercises that go along with what kids do outside is going to recalibrate their vestibular system so that they can then get the cerebellum working again, when they're inside. And they're working on their academics so they can focus on the academics. I really get frustrated with teachers who keep kids in who do not finish their work and prevent them from recess, because that's the probably the most important part of their day,

Jonily 30:45
day in louder for the people in the back.

Cheri Dotterer 30:50
Recess is essential.

Jonily 30:54
Today, Sherry, I'm ready, I'm ready to go.

Cheri Dotterer 30:58
Finding other times of the day that don't impact their recess. So can they come in to school I have

Speaker 2 31:10
an hour thing about the we've already talked about this several times is the kids sitting on the back of your chair, turning it around, having them stand up, which I've always had due to its whatever seating they wanted standing, the different kinds of chairs, but I never thought of that. And then you also related that to kids that don't want to be hugged. And you've always known kids that kind of cower. But I've never thought of it in relation to that.

Jonily 31:45
And I do want to say also, that these sessions, as a part of this course, are foundational sessions, there are enough to get you started in implementing and taking it two or three levels beyond. But I want you all to keep in mind, there are 789 more levels. More than what are being taught in the videos that you'll have access to through the resources, the slight doubt,

Speaker 3 32:15
it convinced me with the vestibular and the to actually make them touch it most.

Speaker 1 32:19
I do have a couple of kiddos right now. And they are currently identified and getting services, but they won't sit down. And so I put them places in the room where they can stand up and and move around. I don't ever see them sitting back in their chair. They're always on the edge. And so I'm like, oh, that must be what's going on. And so I think may this may well be my let's see if this trick works. And so let's just turn them around to their chairs around and get them to see if they sit was not this so much for me, but they like to wander and it's not that's a big deal. It's just worth chasing squirrels at this time of year. I just wonder that

Cheri Dotterer 32:57
we will see you on May 18. For this and our subject is QuickTime. Yes. May 11 is I'm going to be doing tier 123 non academic intervention. So I'm really going to dig into activities that you can do with the kid was

Speaker 5 33:16
your one interventions with Jonily Zupancic and Cherie daughter. Tier one interventions is released on the first and third Tuesday of the month. The podcasts recorded live on the third Saturday of each month. I'm Nicholas King in turn for Sherry daughter educational consulting

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Cheri Dotterer
Cheri Dotterer
Hacking barriers to writing success, dysgraphia No ✏️ Required. 30-sec@time Speaker | Podcast Host | Author | Consultant