Needing physical input is something that some kids need more than others. We are finding out more and more that it is a key part of keeping Elijah focused and calm. Sometimes he just needs a “squeeze” (big bear hug), and other times he needs to roll over the fitness ball or use the weighted blanket. After talking with his PT about how he runs full speed and launches himself head first onto the couch (and the fact that he has such difficulty holding his upper cervical alignment) she suggested a light squeeze on his head with both hands to give him input. It helps him know where his head is in space…sounds strange, I know, but it makes sense when you think about it. If he’s not feeling secure and “grounded” then he needs to have some outside physical pressure to help his body relax. She tried putting one hand on his forehead and the other on the back of his head and gently applying pressure and he literally froze. He didn’t move a muscle and when she asked him if he liked it, he said “yes!”. We use it a few times a day when he seems to be all over the place (rolling around on the floor, becoming more aggressive with his sister, or simply just not able to sit still). It gives him a brief moment where he can regroup (at the very least) and sometimes it really seems to reset him to a calmer state.
Each of the strategies we try seem to be one more piece of the puzzle. None are the answer individually, but we feel like the more things we can use for both Payton and Elijah the more likely we are to find success for whatever situation we come across.
Some other strategies we’ve used:
- Rolling a vibrating hand massager on his back for a few minutes at bedtime
- Covering him with a weighted blanket as he’s trying to fall asleep
- Giving “squeezes” (big bear hugs) when he’s agitated or unable to focus or calm down
- Homeopathy (see post “Could Homeopathy Be the Answer?”)
- Rolling over a fitness ball, pushing off the floor with hands and feet (usually about 20 reps)
- Crawling races around the house
- “Chewy” or Grip Stixx
- Kicking or pushing a fitness ball