Monday, March 11, 2013

'Heavy Work' Activities

Has your child been diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, Asperger's, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder? Does he or she have some sensory challenges or have difficulties "settling down" to focus? Get over-stimulated in crowds or busy environments? Seem to crawl in their skin at times? 

These heavy work activities, may assist to regulate your child or student's sensory systems. Therefore, improving focus and attention while decreasing over-stimulation. Although these activities cannot act as a stand alone treatment for any of the diagnoses listed above, they can certainly help children settle down. They are nice additions to a classroom routine and are easy to incorporate into daily life at home!

Some examples of heavy work tasks include: -->
·      Any type of pulling or pushing such as; moving small chairs around a classroom or stacking chairs, pulling a play wagon with phone books inside, pushing a snack cart with weight added, carrying books around the classroom or to the office
·      Push-ups on knees or wall push-ups
·      Watering flowers in classroom or at home (making sure that watering can is heavy enough) 
·     Carrying or pushing a laundry basket
·      Add weight to a backpack (no more than 5-10% your child's body weight) - this is a nice one to do when going into the grocery store or to an overstimulating birthday party!
·      Climbing on monkey bars
·      Tug of war
·      Shoveling snow/Raking leaves
·      Pushing a wheelbarrow
·      Squeezing/Squishing play-doh, putty, stress ball
·      Sanding wood
·      Stirring, pressing and kneading during cooking activities (making pretzels is a great one!)
·      Chewing on resistive or crunchy foods (chewy/resistive: gum, Annie’s fruit snacks, dried fruit crunchy: celery, pretzel sticks etc)
·      Sucking on a lollipop (SUGARFREE!)
·      Blowing can also be organizing (bubbles, whistles, kazoo, harmonica)

As mentioned above, these suggestions are not intended to act as a stand alone treatment method for any child. However, they are excellent strategies to assist in calming children and regulating them to reach a "just right" state of arousal or readiness. If you think that your child is having difficulties with sensory processing (please review my previous posts related to sensory integration), it is important to discuss this with your Pediatrician or Naturopathic Doctor or consult an occupational therapist in your area. Teachers, if you think that your student is displaying challenges in these areas, please consult with the occupational therapist in your school district as they are a great resource!

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