Astronaut Training is a therapy program designed to have a direct impact on the vestibular, visual, and auditory systems. It incorporates the activation of different channels of the vestibular systems.
Wait. What is the Vestibular System?
The vestibular system is a very complex system, supporting many levels of central nervous system function. It is located in the inner ear and detects balance, changes in position, and movement. It is a gravitational reference point which anchors head and body position in space. It also integrates movement with all sensations.
How Does it Work?
This space-based program involves having the child sit in a one-point aerial yoga hammock (or astronaut rotary board, but we prefer hammocks) and spinning him in various positions. By doing this, the therapist learns whether the child is over- or under-sensitive to motion (by examining eye movement after spinning), and then uses spinning to train the eyes/body for a more coordinated response to motion and visual stimulus.
Is it Beneficial?
Astronaut Training helps children improve their ability to self-regulate especially when there is vestibular dysfunction. It can also enhance spatial awareness and general movement abilities. In a nutshell, it helps with sensory organization for moving, looking and listening.
At Mindful Child, we use the aerial hammock as a prop to assist with sensory integration. The aerial hammock is incorporated in the Astronaut Program instead of a rotary board to increase engagement. The more engaged a child is with an activity, the more likely they are to benefit from it. If you would like more information regarding how we help children with sensory processing e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or set up an initial assessment today.
Williams and Shellenberger developed the pyramid of learning along with the Alert Program, a self regulation program. The pyramid highlights how sensory processing relates to the learning process. It illustrates children’s foundational skills and the hierarchy of skills needed to support academic learning and behavior. The pyramid is important, as it helps breakdown skills into different foundational levels and prioritize what skills to address first in therapy. The process of moving up the pyramid is called a bottom’s up approach. This means that babies and children’s development begins with physical and sensory skills that they must master, step-by-step to move up to higher level skills such as learning, attending, and self-regulating.
The Pyramid of Learning is a way of looking at the whole child. The foundation of the pyramid is a child’s central nervous system, which is closely linked to their sensory systems. Adequate development is built on being able to register and process sensory information from the seven senses (touch, movement, deep pressure, smell, taste, sight, and hearing). If the lower levels of the pyramid for learning are not solid, then your child may have difficulty focusing, completing homework, and learning new information.
Let’s look closer at the levels of the pyramid and the skills that need to be mastered…
Level Two – Sensory
Vestibular (balance, movement)
Proprioception (deep pressure, where body is in space)
Level Three – Sensory Motor
Body scheme (body awareness through movement)
Reflex maturity (reflexes, for safety purposes)
Ability to screen input (paying attention to sensory experiences that are important)
Postural security (confidence in maintaining certain postures to prevent falling)
Awareness of two sides of the body (bilateral integration)
Motor planning (ability to plan movement)
Level Four – Perceptual Motor
Auditory language skills (hearing & speaking)
Visual-spatial perception (recognize an object’s physical location as well as the physical relationships between objects.)
Attention center functions (maintaining attention)
Eye-hand coordination (using what you see to guide the movement of your hands)
Ocular motor control (locating & fixating on something in the field of vision)
Postural adjustment (adjusting posture to maintain balance)
Level Five – Cognition
Daily living activities (such as eating, toileting, personal hygiene)
Mindful Child’s Approach
Sensory processing skills are foundational for learning and regulating behavior. At Mindful Child, our therapists use the aerial hammock as a therapeutic prop to help children develop the skills they need to successfully climb to the top of the pyramid.
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children