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The Ear, the Vestibular System & Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month - here is Paul on the ear and the vestibular system, as related to autism:

The ear does more than pick up sound information. The inner ear is made of the cochlea, the sense of hearing, and of the vestibular system. Balance, the sense of space, and of gravity are all vestibular functions. Our vestibular system gives us the sense of having our feet on the ground as well as control of our movements and motions. In conjunction with the proprioceptive system, it acts as the ‘ear of the body’ and plays a role in our feeling of being ‘together’, of being ‘grounded’. It is also at the base of our body image awareness and motor planning. It provides a sensory foundation to our sense of self. If we want to communicate with others, we have to be able to communicate with ourselves first. The child with autism is lacking this sense of self which, in turn, affects verbal and the nonverbal communication.

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