Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Regulation Rendezvous--Calming Input

As we mentioned in our last Regulation Rendezvous about Home Base, it is important to incorporate sensory regulation supports into the school day to help students better manage their sensory systems. Many students with ASD need calming input throughout the day to decrease anxiety caused by the various environmental and social demands of school. 

One example of calming input is proprioceptive input. The proprioceptive, or heavy work, sensory system is primarily a calming sensory system. It has a regulatory effect over all of the sensory systems. Proprioceptive input has a calming effect on the nervous system for up to 90 minutes. When in doubt with which sensory supports to utilize, especially with a student showing signs of anxiety/escalation, begin with sensory strategies from the proprioceptive system.

Proprioceptive Input can be passive or active. 

Passive proprioceptive input requires little to no effort from the person participating. When using passive proprioceptive input, it needs to be applied 15 minutes prior to the calming input to begin.

Some examples may be alternate seating such as a beanbag chair.
Taylor Ruef, Stevenson Elementary

Weighted items such as a vest, lap pad, or weighted blanket or a pressure vest can also be calming. We love this great idea from Lemon Lime Adventures.

In some classrooms, staff provides input through joint compressions or through deep pressure to the students shoulders and arms. 

Active proprioceptive input requires the person participating to actively engage in the activity to receive input.

In some classes, students push heavy carts, carry crates of books or milk cartons, use a pusher, pull a heavy wagon, use a steamroller squeeze machine, or propel themselves while laying prone on a scooter board.

Steamroller Squeeze Machine

Robbie Whorton, Trotwood-Madison High School

Heavy work can be stocking shelves with books or cans or tossing a weighted ball with a peer.

Stevenson Elementary, Mad River Local Schools

Many classes participate in calming yoga routines at scheduled times during the school day.
Stevenson Elementary, Mad River Local Schools

Emily Ottmar, Stevenson Elementary

Many students enjoy the opportunity to choose which type of calming input they want to perform using a visual choice board.
Robbie Whorton, Trotwood-Madison High School

Other times, students follow a specific sequence of activities. 
Emily Ottmar, Stevenson Elementary

Linear Vestibular Input can also be calming. Students may benefit from rocking in a rocking chair, taking a walk, or swinging on a 2-point suspension swing. Linear vestibular movement should be back and forth or side to side. Refrain from jerky, rotational. and/or rapid acceleration-deceleration which can be alerting.
Emily Ottmar, Stevenson Elementary

Chewing can provide calming input as well. Chewy licorice, beef jerky, gummy worms, or chewing gum can give great input. Also frozen fruit snacks get really chewy! Some students benefit from the use of chew tubes or sticks or more discrete chewelery.
Anne Rosenbaum, Orchard Park Elementary

Using lamps or natural lighting instead of bothersome overhead fluorescent lights can be calming for students with both visual and auditory sensitivities.
Rachel Hatton, Normandy Elementary

Athenia Eversole, Versailles Elementary

Kendall Koehler, Normandy Elemenatary

Deep breathing can also provide calming input. Learning to control one’s breath can lower anxiety, support clear and focused thought, and assist in self-management of emotions. We often suggest the use of our deep breathing folder or Breathe2Relax app.

We love this great breathing example from Empower Tools at using an expandable sphere.

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