‘Heavy work’ can be really good for kids with sensory processing disorder: it gives the child important proprioceptive input because it involves resistance and input to the muscles and joints, making the child aware of their position in space and increases their ability to concentrate and decreases defensiveness. It helps them organise their emotions, nervous system and their response to stimulus. Kids who have too much energy or who are bumping into people and things and crashing around the house benefit from proprioceptive input. Elizabeth struggles to get to sleep at night and sometimes feels overwhelmed by her surroundings especially if the room is noisy or untidy. Heavy work helps her to self-regulate.
These pictures show Elizabeth pushing Oona around the living room in the lego box. I am very lucky because she is such a clever girl, we have done a lot of work together on reading our body’s sensory signals and I have managed to empower her to understand what her body is asking for by recognizing the ‘symptoms’ and giving her body what it needs.
Other times she has used ‘heavy work’ to regulate herself:
Excited outside the restaurant: we tried to push the car over (flat hands on the car and push: HARD!)
Giddy in the Supermarket: I got all the kids to sit in the trolley and Elizabeth pushed the trolley
Arguing with her sister after spending too long playing Barbies: I made them pack up and then asked her to carry the heavy box to the playroom
Cross-patchy after crocheting on a snowy day: built a snow man outside
When we are cleaning the house as a team, Elizabeth does the hoovering because it does HER good as well as the carpet!
Unable to focus on school work: bounced on the trampoline
Ready for bed and not tired: Daddy gives her a ‘squeeze’ (a very tight, muscle-squishing hug)
***some people recommend spinning as a way to calm children with SPD and whilst they SEEK spinning, I don’t believe it does them any good. When you rock a baby to sleep, you rock in a linear (back and forth) way. We do this instinctively: it is calming and organising. Baby falls asleep because of the rhythmic back and to motion. I encourage Elizabeth to swing, or bounce which are both linear. She isn’t allowed to spin because it makes her crazy!! 🙂 ***
Elizabeth will be offering her own ‘sensory tip of the week’ on her blog over at elizabethsylvia.wordpress.com