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Sensory Processing: Strategies for teaching kids about self- regulation Presented by Shannon Raybold Camas School District 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "Sensory Processing: Strategies for teaching kids about self- regulation Presented by Shannon Raybold Camas School District 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sensory Processing: Strategies for teaching kids about self- regulation Presented by Shannon Raybold Camas School District 2003

2 What is the Alert Program? It’s a program that that is designed with 2 goals in mind: –Increase awareness of self-regulation –Increase number of strategies for children to change how they feel It’s based on sensory processing theory Reprinted with permission from TherapyWorks Inc. Reprinted with permission from TherapyWorks Inc.

3 What can it do for you? Give teachers and students the language and understanding of how alert their body’s feel (i.e. low, just right, or high) Teach strategies to change those levels Knowing how to use these strategies can translate into kids who are able to self- regulate and thus less disruptive and more successful in class and at home

4 How does YOUR engine run? Describing arousal states can be like describing a car engine Everyone’s engines run at different levels at different times of the day Numerous outside factors can influence our engine level, such as being ill, going into a stressful meeting, or being late.

5 Low Arousal This stage describes how one might feel before you’ve had that cup of coffee in the morning or maybe how you feel when sitting in a dark, warm room for a long meeting.

6 Just right This is where we want kids to be When kids are internally feeling just right, then their minds are alert and ready to learn. They can sit in their seats and focus on what is being said to them

7 High Arousal This level describes how you might feel when you have 5 people talking to you at once and you’ve had 3 cups of coffee. You are not able to efficiently take in the information that’s being presented to you.

8 Why is self-regulation important?

9 Sensory diet The term “sensory diet” describes how our brains need input (sensorimotor input) to function properly. Everyone has a unique “formula” to help their brains maintain a balance. Before designing a sensory diet, consult an occupational therapist (OT) to help assess and design a diet that meets the needs of the individual.

10 Ways to change our states Put something in your mouth Move Touch Look Listen Reprinted with permission from TherapyWorks Inc.

11 Tools for the Mouth Food items In general, foods that are altering tend to be cold, sour/tart, spicy, minty, or crunchy Foods that are calming tend to be warm, smooth, or sweet Some foods fall under heavy work (for the jaw and cheek muscles) which can either calm or alert

12 Tools for the Mouth “Brain Food” (term coined by Patricia Oetter), a kindergarten teacher might give the kids a small cup of popcorn to keep their engines alert while listening to the story. Non Food Items Straws Gum (depending on class rules) Exercise water bottles Theratubing Humming Tongue twisters Lip gloss Vibrators T-sticks

13 Tools for the Mouth Sucking and Blowing Activities Deep breathing Blowing a cotton ball with a straw while tracking with eyes (to warm up eye muscles) Sucking thick liquids through a straw Musical instruments such as kazoos, harmonicas, or whistles Using curly straws Blow pens Blowing bubbles

14 Tools for the Body (Ways to move) Try different seating options such as A barely inflated beach ball A camping pillow partially filled with water as a lap weight A therapy ball A T-stool Allowing children to stand at their desks and work (often putting a piece of tape on the floor where they should stand/stay helps).

15 Tools for the Body (Ways to move) Up and down motions Jumping rope, spiking a volleyball, dunking a basketball, skipping, bouncing on a big ball or in a moonwalk, or marching Front and back activities Rocking in a chair, swinging, ice skating or roller blading Upside down activities Hanging on bars, wheelbarrow walking, roller coasters, head stands from furniture

16 Tools for the Body (Ways to move) Crash and bump activities Jumping into piles of pillows or on an old mattress, driving bumper cars, pillow fights, playing football Circles Sit n’ spins, merry-go-round, spinning on a tire swing, riding on a ferris wheel, spinning in an office chair

17 Tools for Touch Weighted blanket Lap weights Hug vests Chair hugs Body socks Hand fidgets, such as silly putty, string, paperclips, stress balls, koosh balls, gak, etc. Any kind of heavy work, such as lifting, moving heavy items, or stretching

18 Tools for the Eyes Try dimming the lights and closing the blinds to calm students down Muted colors and plain walls tend to be calming Bright colors, “busy” walls and bright lights tend to be alerting Oil and water toys Spinners Shimmery pom poms Lava lamps Glitter wands Flashlights Tents with blankets on top to darken spaces

19 Tools for the Ears Sounds that are short, a rhythmical, loud, or novel tend to be alerting Sounds that are rhythmical, quiet, long in duration, and familiar are calming and easier to ignore Try using music of various types and volumes to change alertness levels to get kids ready for the next task Create “cozy corners” in the room where kids can be when the noise of the room is overwhelming to them

20 Tools for the Ears Try playing white noise (such as ocean surf or rain) in the background of the classroom Set up a listening center where kids can use headphones to get the right kind of auditory input for their engines For kids who are sensitive to noise, let them use earplugs or headphones in the cafeteria or assemblies or let them eat in a quiet room During tests, you can let kids wear headphones (with no sound) to help them block out distractions

21 How does this fit into a school setting? These strategies can be adapted for everyone from preschoolers to adults –They can also be easily modified for use with kids who have developmental delays- it’s been used a lot for kids with autism and ADHD The Alert Program has a flexible time commitment from teachers

22 Examples for how to use levels in the schools In a resource room setting, you can integrate it into a social skills group During academic groups in a resource room, fidgets and other strategies can help students concentrate and focus The resource room teacher can provide in-services to other staff members and/or to classrooms

23 Examples for how to use levels in the schools In a general education classroom, the regular education teacher can team teach with the occupational therapist or special education teacher to introduce the strategies These activities can be done in minutes per day Once the skills are taught, preferably in the beginning of the year, the teacher knows that children have a base knowledge of how to self- regulate and can draw on and enhance that throughout the year

24 Examples for how to use levels in the schools Once the skills are taught, the classroom teacher can incorporate “Engine” lessons into the daily routine by: Talking about how characters in books may be feeling using “engine” language Regularly scheduling sensory breaks into the daily schedule Having a menu of sensory activities available for kids to select when they need to Having a “tool box” available with sensory options for kids as they need them Allowing water bottles and/or snacks in the class

25 Strategies for the classroom Below are some things that staff can do to help children meet their sensory needs. The goal is to help them meet those needs during naturally occurring activities throughout the school day. Have students carry heavy objects to the lunch room (i.e. lunch bags) Allow students to run notes to the office Have student unstack and restack chairs each day Push the library cart through the halls

26 Strategies for the classroom Crush cans for recycling Provide a quiet corner for students Allow for in-class movement breaks (i.e. sharpening pencil time or time to get up to get drinks) Have kids push on/”hold up” the wall while standing in line Do chair push-ups or table push-ups Erase chalkboards or whiteboards

27 Strategies for the classroom Wash tables in the cafeteria Help custodian or gym teacher put away equipment Encourage physical play at recess such as climbing, running, jumping, skipping, etc. Sort and move library books Allow student to work at desk standing Chew on appropriate items such as gum, jerky, or straws

28 How does this help at home? The Alert Program principles can be applied whenever children are Once parents understand the concepts of sensory processing, they can very effectively help their children self- regulate

29 Examples of how to use levels at home Some families have added into their routines activities and strategies that help their child self- regulate Some families have made picture schedules and menus for sensory type activities to choose from Having a designated space (i.e. a basement room or play room) for sensory equipment and toys

30 Strategies for at home Below are some strategies and activities that parents can use at home Involve children in sports teams/activities Install swings Get a trampoline Allow kids to chew gum Use weighted toys or dolls Have a quiet tent or fort for kids

31 Strategies for at home Invest in a ball pit Use a disc ‘o sit for sitting in chairs, such as during meals Allow kids to move furniture Visit playgrounds Cut tags out of their clothes Let kids help in the garden Make a tight sleeping sheet Have a fidget box for long car rides, during homework time, or for while listening to a story

32 Summing it up The strategies presented here I’ve used and my colleagues have used with great success, which is why I wanted to share this information with others. I believe that these strategies do make a difference in our children’s ability to take in and process information. There are many more strategies or suggestions that TherapyWorks suggests, if you have other questions or want more information, please come to the sensory lab this afternoon.

33 Reference Information Check out the Alert Program website at Ayer,A.J. (1979). Sensory integration and the child. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services. Williams, M.S. & Shellenberger, S. (1994). “How does your engine run?” A leader’s guide to the Alert Program for self-regulation. Albuquerque, NM: TherapyWorks, Inc. Williams, M.S. & Shellenberger, S. (2001). Take 5! staying alert at home and school. Albuquerque, NM: TherapyWorks, Inc.


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