Monday, December 01, 2008

The new addition to our arsenal

We have for awhile been having concerns and difficulties with Elizabeth regarding over stimulation and sensory seeking. Going out to busy stores, being in a crowded room, eating in a restaurant and even visiting friends and family's homes has been more challenging. Elizabeth easily becomes overstimulated in these situations and becomes a child that we don't know. Elizabeth is a very good natured child who cooperates with most that we ask of her but in these situations she trashes her body throwing her head back, throws objects, squeals, yells, cannot stay still, hits and kicks. We have tried so many ways (weighted belt, deep pressure vest, busy toys, stories) to engage her in these situations but in the end exiting is the only way we can get her calm. It saddens us because she is not that child but there is something in these environments that causes her discomfort.
Elizabeth also has gone from avoiding textures to seeking stimuli; so much that she has been found making angels in the dirt, shredding toilet paper roll by roll, spilling her food or drink so she can feel it in her hands and emptying my plant pots. These can be 'typical' things to do but they became that she was unable to complete daily tasks without her fix as we call it.
We ended seeking help from a private Occupational Therapist who has given us some great ideas and has shown us the Wilbarger Technique of brushing. The brushing technique has really helped Elizabeth it calms her and enables to participate in activities/outings that are normally difficult for her. The protocol does require brushing and joint compressions every 90 minutes but we are only doing it in the morning and before a stressful situation. Her teacher has noticed the days we do and don't brush her as Elizabeth does not squeal and become overexcited when she is brushed. We also are continuing with her proprioceptive activities to enhance her body awareness, she loves the rough play and being flattened by her big PT ball.


Ellen Seidman said...

I have heard a lot of good things about the brushing technique, though we haven't tried it ourselves. Max had the same issues with restaurants/stores. With restaurants, bringing along a DVD player with his favorite DVD (Cars) has helped. In crowded stores, either Dave or I pick him up and hug him hard, and then usually he will bawl but then eventually calm down. It's still a bit of a crap shoot, though, as sometimes he just wants OUT, too much stimulation, like Elizabeth. Instead of getting all upset and anxious about these situations, we tend to go in thinking we may have to leave, and then take it as a gift if he's cool staying. It used to bum me out, but I know all sorts of typically-developing kids who can't handle crowded situations. I always think these reactions are a special-needs kid problem when, in reality, they can be an every-kid problem.

anon said...

It always amazes how similar our girls are. I'm glad the brushing is helping. We tried to get her preschool teachers to do it but they don't have time.

You've inspired me to give it another try at home though.

Anika has a chewy necklace that she wears when we got out or at home if she's feeling chewy. I've notice when we got to busy places like the mall or the science museum she gnaws away at it frantically.


CP and Me said...


Although Hannah seems to do okay in crowds and with noise, she has a really hard time settling down at night for bed. She will talk in her room for hours sometimes and my husband and I both think it might be her inability to calm herself down after all the excitement of the day (it doesn't happen at nap time.) I'm thinking of doing a little with this before bedtime based on what you've reported how it's helped E. I plan to ask our OT about it next week.

Happy holidays!