Archives for the month of: February, 2017

How many times a day do you look at your watch or the clock on your phone?  If you are like me, then you probably do it many times.

We have the concept of time.

We understand that we must manage time to function well in life

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For example: We know how long it takes to get somewhere, how long it takes to get ready and we can figure out, based on the above, how soon we need to leave to arrive at an appointment on time.

But so many of our special needs children do not grasp the

They do not fully understand a half hour versus 45 minutes.

Or that you need to do something for 25 minutes then get ready to leave.

I know Elizabeth and I have had many talks about time.  But for those who have the same disorders that she does, Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder, time is simply not grasped or fully understood.  By this I mean, Elizabeth knows how to manage a schedule, she knows what she is doing each day.  She even remembers dates and events for me, which trust me, makes her smile because I “lost my focus” as she says.  But if I ask her how long she was volunteering, I may receive the answer of “about 20 minutes”…and she was there for 2 hours.

So, recognizing the needs of our special needs children is critical.  Putting supports into place to help them is critical. Teaching and reinforcing concepts of time is critical.

But how to do this?   

I started with a timer.  I started by telling Elizabeth what we were doing and for how long. I started by telling her what we would do next once the timer went off.  And we used the timer for managing time on the T.V., time until we had dinner, time that we would do homework.  

I love the visual timer because it spoke for me, it was doing its job instead of my voice being used. And if anyone was displeased, they could blame it on the inanimate time, not mom( insert smiley face here).

I have to say for those who need this kind of help, the timer I would recommend to try is the Time Timer

Back in the day, we used a kitchen timer.  You set it.  And it went off…loudly.  And then we did what was next on the schedule. Once your heart rate went back down to normal that is.  This time timer does not do that, it has a nice soft sound that signals time is up.  Which is both comforting and less anxiety producing than mine was.

Also, as opposed to the timer I used that had numbers only, this one has a red face that marks the time.  As the time ticks down, the red goes away.  So that our children know, if there is no red left, time is up.  

What a great visual schedule!   You can teach them to look at the clock for the numbers and how much red is left.

I always talk about teaching.  Because as parents and caregivers to these special needs children, you want to help them know and understand as much as they can about life and the world.  Taking the time to teach about schedules, taking the time to make the visual schedule (be it pictures or words) and taking the time to talk about the schedule after the day is done, will so help to reinforce concepts that prove hard to grasp.

This time timer will be a major sensory tool in their success to working with the concept of time.

Trust me, the time will become a very close friend of yours.  I am looking at the kitchen timer now and smiling because I can remember the words of Elizabeth “ Man, the timer went off, come on Michael, time to brush our teeth for school.”   

Yup, she may have not liked the time…but it worked.

I wish you all a good week.

Please let me know if you have any success stories you wish to share.

Michele

 

When someone asks me what I remember most about our early times with Elizabeth, the time before we knew what disorders she had.  My mind’s eye takes me to the memories of her crying.  

Simply crying, most, if not all of each and every day.

Crying on and on.

So flash forward to the time after we received the diagnosis of her disorders Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  Sidebar here..it was called Sensory Defensiveness at the time. And Global Dyspraxia.  They are co-morbid disorders.  Meaning if you have one you will most likely show signs of the other.  

So we had the diagnosis.  Then we met with our Occupational Therapist who talked to us about this small little brush, how to use it and a little thing called a sensory diet.  Truth be told we weren’t ready yet.  So that little brush did not enter our world until we met Mary.

Mary, our beloved therapist Mary, who is still on our “team” gave us the brush, a plan for how to use it and a hug.   She told us the brush was the Wilbarger brush and the way to use it called the Wilbarger Protocol. She told us this was the beginning of the sensory diet that Elizabeth was going to need to help her body be “organized” and that organization would help her start to make gains in many areas. It was a special brush, I was told.  Not any old one will do. The same brush is available on our website, under Wilbarger brush.  

I remember looking at this brush, turning to look at my Elizabeth and thinking, “I cannot believe that this small object will really be able to do all the Mary says.”

Wilbarger Therapressure Massage Brush Balta Brush specialneedsessentials

The Wilbarger Brush

I can remember being told how to use it, when to use it, what to watch for, what to hope for and what to hope does not happen.  I was told so much and I wrote it all down.  I took that little brush home, along with a near ream of papers about it.

And we began the protocol and I began to write down when we used it.  We used it every two hours as I was told to, every day, for over 2 years. That was our time frame, everyone’s will be different.

We brushed arms first, then down to the legs.  NEVER the stomach or chest.

Elizabeth did not like it at first, but after a bit, she would bring me the brush if she needed it or if I was a bit late using it.

We saw changes…small at first.  Like “Hey, she’s not crying,” to big ones like, “Hey, she is trying to color.”   Please remember, EVERYTHING was offensive to Elizabeth.  She had severe SPD.  So touching a crayon was quite a momentous thing.

We kept in close communication with Mary because this is an important thing to do when you are doing this program.  It is not something one can just start.  According to the website www.ot-innovations.com   “Training is an absolute necessity before attempting to use this technique in practice.  Use requires a trained therapist otherwise harmful or ineffective influences may be the result.”  

So the positive growth kept coming and we saw smiles not tears and we saw her being so much calmer during the day. According to the same website, the positive growth can include “An increase in ability to transition to new things, increase in attention span, decrease fear and discomfort being touched and an increased ability of the central nervous system to use information that is coming in.”  

What all that means is the sensory information that was so offensive to Elizabeth’s system will now be so much less. Hugging does not feel like it hurts, transitioning from one activity to the next without a meltdown, and she can focus longer to learn instead of always being on hyper-alert.

We saw the growth and successes in all these areas, and that little brush became quite a valuable commodity to us.  I remember buying an extra one from Mary because it is important that the bristles are not bent for it to work its best to provide specific stimulation to the nerve endings of the skin.  Please remember, we started our journey in 1997 and the internet was not what it is today. Therefore, buying more brushes or any supplies, really, for Elizabeth was work. I was always so careful to know exactly where the brushes were located at all times. 

Thank you little brush and big protocol for what part you played in finding Elizabeth inside of the crying little child.  

I offer to those wondering about the brush and the protocol to talk with an occupational therapist to see if the brushing will help your child.  If the answer is yes, please order on our site and start.  In my opinion and in our world, it was life saving, or rather life finding.

I wish you all a peaceful week and as always any and all responses are welcome.

Michele

 

**Author note** the protocol includes joint compressions as well as brushing.  Joint compressions need to be demonstrated and practiced in person to be safe and effective.  The author chose not to mention them in the article but please ask your occupational therapist about them as well.  

 

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