Unwinding After School

Children who have compelling sensory needs they have managed to sublimate all day will most likely need a physical workout after school to feed their sensory systems, either to calm down and reorganize, or to raise their level of alertness in order to focus on homework. A 5-10 minute intense goal-oriented “workout” with a clear beginning and end is best for children who need vestibular, proprioceptive, or deep touch pressure input. The trick is to help your child find a routine that works best for him/her.

Resistive activities (proprioceptive input) that also provide some movement through space (vestibular input) are “grounding” and organizing because they incorporate “heavy work”. Engaging in these types of activities can ease the transition to homework. Activities that provide high proprioceptive with low vestibular input include:

  • “Pushing out the wall”: Have your child stand facing the wall with two open palms on the wall, at shoulder level. Take two small steps backward and challenge your child to imagine making the room bigger by pushing out the wall.

  • Bicycle riding, scooter riding

  • Jumping rope

  • Jumping on a trampoline for a set amount of time. Develop a routine that incorporates a variety of movements

  • Soft, gentle bouncing while sitting on an inflatable therapy ball

  • Play tug-of-war with a jump rope.  Try it sitting, on knees, and standing

  • Play catch with a weighted ball (“medicine” ball).

  • Push/pull heavy items such as a laundry basket, a vacuum, a heavy shopping cart, a weighted doll carriage, etc.

Helpful Hint: Avoid activities that are difficult for your child to leave when the time is up.

Blog submitted by: Aviva Goldwasser, OTR/L

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