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 proportion to any real danger that exists or to any postural deficits the child may have.
How Does Gravitational Insecurity 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. Children who experience gravitational insecurity avoid most physically active tasks and might even get upset when they are required to move.
Common symptoms of gravitational insecurity include:
- Fear of heights.
- Unwarranted anxiety or fear.
- Overwhelmed by head position changes.
- Avoidance of elevators, stairs, uneven surfaces and high playground equipment.
- Refusal to join in on gross motor activities.
- Moving carefully and slowly.
Treatments through Pediatric Occupational Therapists
- A common treatment used by pediatric occupational therapists for gravitational insecurity is sensory integration. Your child is able to process information more efficiently by providing him or her with graded vestibular information. Sensory experiences are gradually and slowly introduced to your child so they don’t identify with these experiences in a negative way.
- The child is guided through a multisensory approach by the therapist to help him explore his environment through vestibular system stimulation. This is done by encouraging the child to swing, climb, roll, jump and crawl, which is all things outside his comfort zone. The child is challenged just a little bit initially, which will allow them to gradually start participating in activities that were once terrifying to them.