Happy Thanksgiving. Autumn has come. The air is moist and chilled. Heaters have turned on. Clothes are layered and heavy. Leaves crunch. It is dark at 5:00pm. People are making plans for the holidays. Maybe there was some tension as the elections approached (or afterward.)
The TBRI Empowering Principle has two components: physiological strategies and ecological strategies. Autumn is a time of year that brings some challenges in proactively implementing ecological strategies. There are many transitions occurring inside our homes, in schools, and in nature. This brings opportunities for co-regulation and proactively addressing (and planning) to meet your child’s needs.
This month’s challenge is designed to help you determine what needs your child might have. Ready? Set. Go!
The first part is very simple. You will just write your name and address.
Here’s what you’ll need:
paper, pen/pencil, timer.
Step 1: Set the timer for 20 seconds. I timed myself four times doing this with my dominant hand, and I have a long name. It averaged 8 seconds, so 20 should be more than enough for you.
Step 2: Start the timer. Write your name and address, with your non-dominant hand. If you cannot complete it, legibly, in 20 seconds, you will have to do it again until you get it right.
For this section you will need:
A pair of Dollar Store reading glasses and something to read
If you wear glasses with a Rx of +/- 2.0 or higher, you will take them off. If you do not wear glasses, you will need to use a pair of dollar store readers +/- 2.0 at least. With the altered vision, read whatever is close by.
This last section requires:
gardening/rubber gloves (like for dish washing, not the kind doctors wear)
some paperclips spread out on a flat surface
a soda or water bottle
Put your gloves on and put the paperclips into the bottle.
How did each it feel to complete each of these tasks? These are mild simulations of what it can feel like for children with sensory processing difficulties. Now if you add to those difficulties, the pressure of wanting to please someone (parent, teacher, peer, sibling) who is waiting for you, it adds another layer of difficulty. Then on top of that pressure, add the fear that if you do not complete this you may be harmed, left alone, or punished. Is your heart racing? Are you finding it harder to concentrate? Are your hands starting to shake? Come on, these are simple tasks and people are waiting for you.
Stanley Greenspan, the author of The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising, and Enjoying the Five “”Difficult”” Types of Children describes sensory processing/integration with this great analogy.
“Imagine driving a car that isn’t working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn’t respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else.” It’s no wonder children with sensory processing disorders feel out of control, exhibit a whole host of behaviors, and have difficulty concentrating and focusing.
How will you help your precious child enjoy the holiday season? What steps can you take to alter the environment for them? Do they need some headphones to drone out the excess noise? Are all of the smells of the seasons overwhelming? Maybe they could use an essential oil on their wrists or on a bandanna. It gets dark so early. Are they thrown off and unsure of the time of day? Maybe a clock that lights/dims or has soothing sounds at certain times will help them adjust their circadian rhythm. Could you give verbal cues throughout the afternoon and evening, acknowledging that it is different. Your schedule may be back to back with To Dos to get the shopping, baking, visiting, and decorating done. Prioritize together and prepare a written schedule. Then talk about how you and your child will identify when they need a break from the hustle and bustle.
Above all else, stay CONNECTED to your precious child and work diligently to ensure they FEEL connected to you.
Leave me a comment and let me know how the challenges went for you and what you will do proactively.