Our vestibular system is one of our eight major senses. Vestibular sensitivity describes both too much and too little sensation to movement – by that I mean too much or too little compared with the majority of people. If we have too much we are considered hypersensitive and if we have too little we are described as hyposensitive to movement. Our vestibular system involves using our sight and our inner ear and, if working effectively, these act together to keep us physically balanced and help us adjust to the sensation of movement – from something as simple as standing up to as sensorily complex as walking a tight-wire or riding on the waltzers.

Vestibular sensitivity is not exclusive to neurodivergent people but it is incredibly common for us, and many of us experience the co-occurring condition dyspraxia which is the result of pronounced vestibular sensitivity. Our senses work in conjunction with each other, so proprioception is closely related to vestibular sensitivity.

Signs of vestibular sensitivity may include some of these, all of these, and are not limited to the following:

Hypersensitive examples

  • Feeling incredibly nauseous, even physically sick, after being on a fairground ride, or even a playground swing
  • Not coping with activities that require frequent bending down and standing up as these make us feel dizzy
  • Motion sickness on any or all forms of transport

Hyposensitive examples

  • Hyperactivity
  • Pacing, rocking, walking round in circles (these activities overlap with stimming)
  • A lack of dizziness when spinning or going on fairground rides or playground equipment, even after lengthy periods
  • Difficulties with balance

For broader information on sensory sensitivity please click here → to return to the general page on hypersensitivity and here → to return to the post on hyposensitivity.

You might want to have a look at the glossary entry on spinning ← click here – a stim that those who experience vestibular hyposensitivity can find very rewarding.