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Q&A: Child Loves to Spin Himself?


I treat a 20-month-old boy. This child loves to spin himself and other things. He scored with low registration on the Sensory Profile. Following your strategies, he would be an UNDER-responder. What suggestions would you have for his spinning? Should we encourage it and if so, how much?


His love of spinning coupled with the Sensory Profile measure results definitely point toward under-responsivity to vestibular input. Here are some suggestions to develop his sensory diet.

Do This

If you’re using BrainWorks, he needs lots of green arrow (alerting) sensory diet activities. Under-responders have a very high threshold for sensory registration. The green arrow activities will help him reach that threshold with the end goal being that once the sensory input is registered, he will be able to focus on something else for a while.

Focus on a variety of green arrow (alerting) sensory diet activities, not just ones that involve spinning. He needs to get in touch with his body and where he is in space so activities that involve heavy work input will also be useful (prone over a ball while “catching” himself on his hands, etc.).

Don’t Do This

Allow spinning as one of his sensory diet activities, but discourage constant spinning. You may want to make a picture card for the Sit ’n Spin or a swing that spins and use that on his sensory diet tool. After an appropriate amount of time has passed (5–10 minutes depending on intensity), say “All done spinning!” and put the card out of site. If he starts to spin himself or something else, say “It’s not spinning time.”

The primary reason we want to discourage too much spinning is that he’s missing out on learning appropriate play. We want him to learn to use imagination to interact with objects (use floor time methods for this), and he won’t have that opportunity if he spins everything. So if he is spinning a toy car, his mom could sit on the floor with him and say, “Watch my car. My car drives this way.” She would demonstrate and then encourage him to imitate that with his car. If he spins it instead, say, “No, cars don’t spin. Cars drive like this.”

Having said that, it would be appropriate for him to occasionally have access to toys that are designed to spin (like tops). These could even be used as a method of positive reinforcement.


Spinning can be a trigger for seizures. Make sure there are no signs/symptoms of a seizure disorder.

Hope this helps! Keep me posted!

Best Wishes,