Do you have a child that has a meltdown around the same time every day? Having trouble with that student who does not do well with schedule changes? Are you a parent that feels you have to overuse the “Time Out” chair? You may have a child that has challenges with sensory overload.
These students have trouble handling a busy classroom and the multiple sensations that come with it: overhead fluorescent lights, background noise of computers and fans, bulletin boards and walls filled with art work and other visual stimuli, changing classrooms or going to the gym for a pep rally… all of these scenarios become too much for them to handle as the day wears on. These children may not be able to articulate that they are in overload mode, so instead, they reach a breaking point and act out…and when they do a common disciplinary action is go in “Time- Out”.
Time-out is usually a space away from the hustle and bustle so the kids actually get a quiet place for their sensory system to regroup. The student then may then actually learn the conditioned response to act up to get what his/her sensory system needs and so starts the cycle. Many educators and parents need to make a paradigm shift in this concept. If you allow a sensory break in at regular intervals (say after 2 hours of being in school so around 10am for example) this 5-10 minute period of a “sensory time-in” may help prevent the meltdowns later on.
The shift occurs in that the “Time-In” is not seen as a punishment or a reward, it is just something that is built into the student’s schedule and implemented every day for best results. Just like a multi-vitamin, many kids need this sensory break strategy of allowing some regrouping space where they can calm down and reorganize to maintain the daily health of their sensory system. A Fluffchair in a corner with and a set of Noise Cancelling Headphones like our Hush Buddys for example may do the trick. Use a Time Timer for the transition in or out of the chill space. Follow these easy steps and watch Time Out and meltdowns disappear.