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

> p58 of http://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/Energizers/Texts/K-5-Energizers.pdf

> 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.