Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Great tips on sensory solutions, calming meltdowns & the creative ways to get kids moving!

We are always looking for some sensory feedback ideas, visuals and strategies. These are some great links that have been shared, and thought you would all like to have a look. Kids will enjoy the movement, the visual, and get the sensory feedback they are seeking. 

These sensory solutions are based on sensory processing theory.  Anxiety and stress have been linked with an amplification of tactile or sensory defensiveness as stress is a behavioural response to environmental input*. Anxiety may be both a cause and an effect of the predominance of the protective system**.  Tantrums or meltdowns are outward demonstrations of the stress and anxiety within your child.  They are responding to their "fight, flight or fright" (sympathetic nervous systems) ... their perceived reality.  Read more about tactile defensiveness and sensory processing here and here.

These activities facilitate self regulation through breathing and proprioceptive input into muscles, skins and joints. They may be incorporated into a sensory diet. Read more about sensory diets here.

Teach these sensory solutions to your children so they have strategies in their "tool kit" to calm down when the need arises.  Teachers may implement these with a whole class.



Here are some great tips from the 'Autism Discussion Page', around how to help if a meltdown occurs, some deep body pressure to calm, some tools that help, importance of having a safe area. 

When meltdowns occur, it is important to immediate remove the demands, activity, and stimulation so the child can rebound. If possible allow the child to escape to a safe area. Allow the child to engage in whatever activity tends to sooth them. They may not want any help from you. If they will except help try to calm the nervous system with deep pressure, proprioception, or simple rhythmic regulatory patterns. These techniques help the nervous system lower the stress chemicals faster

For some children deep pressure can help calm and organize the nervous system. However, if the pressure has to be administered by another person, first teach it to them when they are calm, so they can learn to trust it. You don't want to first introduce it when they are in the middle of a meltdown. If I am using deep pressure techniques with families, I have the parents at first do them daily, when the child is calm, to teach them to enjoy and value the strategies. Then once they are accepting of the techniques, then the parents "offer" them (not force it on them} when upset.

It is very important that once a meltdown occurs you immediate remove the demands to allow the child to rebound. Once in overload, the child looses their coping skills and the "fight or flight" reaction sets in. At this time the best strategy is to (1) remove the child from the immediate sensory, cognitive and social demands, (2) help them feel safe, and (3) provide whatever strategies that help sooth the child. If the child will allow you to help calm them then use calming strategies that you have practiced regularly. However, many child want to be left totally alone. As long as they are safe, honor this need.

The use of safe areas for the child to escape and rebound is very important. For children who experience frequent overload, such safe areas should be built into the school environment. 

For the children that will allow you to apply deep pressure stimulation to calm and sooth them, these variations are some that I have found successful. However, you must respect the child. Only use these if the child is welcoming the support.

This link had some great ideas, for the older crowd too. With the winter blahs still kicking around the Island, this had suggestions that may appeal. 
Winter Storm? Tips to Get Kids Exercising and Being Creative Indoors!

Indoor Activity Tips
• Keep a list of indoor activities, on hand to help combat the winter blues. See these suggestions for Keeping the "I'm Bored"s at Bay," including Indoor Bowling, Detergent Jug Catch, Balance Beam and Ribbon Limbo.
• If you can’t get your kids away from the video games (particularly the 11- to 15 year-old crowd), provide them with video games that incorporate being active. (Hint: getting your kids to work up a sweat is the goal) Research  shows that active video games have exercise-like effects on kids. Bring on the “Dance Central" and "Kinect Sports: Boxing," to help children move more.

More Ideas for Indoor Fun
• Now might be the perfect time to introduce your kids to some of your favorite exercises, like yoga or pilates. Play that exercise video and get moving! 
• Exercise aside, how about doing something creative? Movie making is always fun. Over the years, my kids have enjoyed making their own home movies, from drama to comedy. (To tell the truth, they’re all comedy to me, when I watch them!) 

After all of that exercise and creative work, you and the kids are entitled to sit down and watch some movies. Rent some of your favorites or, if you have home movies, relive memories by watching them. Stay safe and warm!

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