Expert Tips on Deep Touch/Pressure
Children with sensory processing issues may respond favorably to either weight or pressure. These “heavy work” or deep pressure inputs help regulate the proprioceptive sense which in turn helps develop improved body awareness. Also the additional weight or pressure applied to the body, may help with calming and organizing so that the child can then attend better to task, maintain more appropriate behaviors and avoid meltdowns. Some children may need the pressure applied for longer steady intervals (a pressure vest); while others respond to interval deep pressure input (weighted vest) with on and off wearing periods. Every child’s sensory system is unique so be sure to collaborate with your child’s occupational or physical therapist to help find that just right combination to “weigh me down or hold me tight!”
In addition to deep touch/pressure, vibroacoustic input may also be a good sensory tool to help induce a relaxation, calm restless behavior, and reduce anxiety and stress. These are also good solutions for children with visual, hearing and/or severe cognitive/intellectual impairments.
Expert Tips on Heavy Work Input
It seems from the onset, crawling is an amazing developmental activity that translates into all kinds of success: Calms by activating heavy-work receptors in the muscles and joints – Calms by building muscles that help breathing – Helps children sit in chairs by building back and stomach muscles – Improves handwriting by developing shoulder, arm and wrist stability – Develops fine-motor coordination as it builds the arches of the hand and builds visual tracking skills by refocusing from near to far.
Weighted balls or often termed Medicine Balls can provide plenty of deep touch pressure (proprioceptive) input which may help the sensory system to calm and organize. Great as a transition tool to and from PE too!
Expert Tip on Fine Motor/Handwriting Skills
After a deep touch pressure/heavy work sensory break with tunnel fun or other activities is the perfect time to introduce a fine motor task like handwriting. Many students on the autism spectrum typically don’t like to hold/work with standard writing tools. Have students warm up their hands practicing shapes and letters with our Squiggle Wiggle Writer. It vibrates gently giving much needed proprioceptive input into the muscles/joints of the hand. Once warmed up, transition them to a crayon, pencil or pen to continue.
In recognition of Autism Awareness Month and OT Month, we will be sharing tips throughout the month of April from our experts at Abilitations. Be sure to check back or visit us on Facebook.