Substitute - Prevent - Adjourn
Strategies for increasing sensory input for under-reactive nervous systems include:
> use a big “exercise ball” for a chair or provide two working desks, one for sitting and one for standing to work
> have a range of “fiddling objects” of different textures – stress balls, foam shapes, plastic figures, feather pen topper.
> allow the music on (either in the room or through headphones) for set times such as 10 minutes or three tracks or for particular tasks
> practice spelling or letter formation by “writing” with a finger in a layer of cheap shaving cream on an oven tray .
Strategies for avoiding sensory “overload” of over-reactive nervous systems include:
> headphones to block out or distance unchosen noise. Some of the “calming” soundtracks of eg rain on the roof or ocean waves may be useful too.
> keep the range of textures in the equipment used small
> choose un-scented stickers, erasers and so on
> reduce visual distractions by hanging projects, schedules and so on out of their direct line of sight. It may help to use a carrel or make one out of a cardboard box.
Substitute: rather than stopping the behaviour, provide an alternative. For example, rather than:
> rocking on the chair, do an agreed number of “in-chair” push-ups – put hand next to or under adjacent thigh and push up to lift upper body from the chair
> tapping the pen on the desk, tap a mouse-mat or cork coaster
> swinging legs – put “physio” stretch band around the chair legs and the student puts their feet behind it and pushes forward
> chewing hair or collar, chew a necklet of braided knit fabric or a leather medallion
Prevent: for over-reaction responses, reducing sensory input, and for under-reaction increasing sensory experience, can reduce the disruptive unconscious behaviours.
> traditional games like Hokey Kokey and Simple Simon
> Printable cards to randomly choose a movement break http://www.greeleyschools.org/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=14648&dataid=12831&FileName=Take%20a%20Break%20Cards.pdf
> mini-trampoline or balance board
Adjourn for short movement break (just a few minutes). This can assist in releasing over-reactive stress or “revving up” under-reactive passivity. Different movement activities will be effective for different ages and needs.