A Sensory Lifestyle – Part 2
As was discussed in our last blog, a sensory lifestyle can be very beneficial for your child. You should discuss details of what would work best for your child and situation with your child’s therapist. But what are we talking about with this type of lifestyle? Isn’t my child receiving enough in that full hour with her therapist? Why does he need more than that?
Similar to doing homework for a class, repetition helps bring about change. In this case, we are talking about change on a neurological level. For example, a child may be very picky about clothing, not wanting to wear certain items and preferring only the same clothes over and over (no matter how dirty or old they are). If your therapist asks you to perform the Wilbarger protocol or “brushing” home program, you will be getting your child’s brain used to a certain level of sensation and not to overreact to something that really is not harmful. Doing your home program as the therapist directs will help you expose your child to helpful sensation and therefore make changes.
Another reason for employing a sensory lifestyle is to help you and your family get through a day in the best way possible. Some children, for example, feel better prepared for their day at school or a stressful event if they have had some good activity prior, such as playing on a playground, pulling a friend in a wagon, jumping on a trampoline, riding a bike, or other heavy muscle activity. Push–pull-carry types of activities can be very organizing and calming to a child who needs it. There are many such activities that can be fit into your day, and with a little thought and anticipation when able, you will be able to incorporate just what your child needs at the right time. Even just a few minutes of healthy activity may help your child be better able to tackle homework or attend a family function.
As with any kind of home program, communication is key between you and your therapist. Some things may work better than others, and you may need to alter your home program as your child grows and changes. You can try keeping a diary of activities and behavior, see what correlates. As your child’s caretaker, you know your child best, and you will know when you’ve found something that works just right.