The Lesson of Proprioception

I often look back on my older posts to see what I was doing last year. I am especially looking for help this time of year when the It's-Almost-Summer-Crazy has a hold of my kids and can't seem to let them go -- they act like I put them in the washing machine on spin cycle. Not that they wouldn't love that, but . . .

How do you solve this? The answer for us is always more propriocpetion.

If the boys won't sleep, or can't sit still at the dinner table (or stand in one spot as the case may be), or are so squirrely in the mornings that we are late to school every day for the last week (was that just us?!), I have to go back to basics: Proprioception.

So, as I was thinking this, and reading old blog posts, I came across this one, and I wanted to share!  It was written the end of May last year, just a day before Gabe's 8th birthday -- so it seemed fitting that the photo here is of Gabe's 9th birthday -- just two weeks ago.

I hope it helps calm your last days of school (or first days of summer!). 



Let them Deliver Pickles

My friend made an analogy using the "Dog Whisperer" today at lunch. It sparked my own reference to a "Cesar Milan" episode I saw the other day. He was putting a dog backpack on this Pit Mix (which I feel my kid sure can act like sometimes) and the only thing he had to fill it with was pickles.

Cesar says, and I am paraphrasing, "When you put the backpack on the dog it gives him a job. He is clearly more focused, because now he isn't just walking, he is delivering the pickles."

But we'll get to how that ties into my day in just a second.

If you are anything like me, and I am just assuming you are, or why would you be reading this (right?), the end of the school year comes as a whirlwind of over-stimulation, anxiety and the dreaded (by us) loss of routine.

This morning was pretty typical of our anxiety moving higher.

Gabriel had a field trip today.
And his birthday celebration.
And tomorrow is his birthday.
And Sunday is his party.
Lots to feel anxious over today.

He woke up this morning and joined me in the office. He was whimpering, and was obviously SO SO SO low. Lower than his normal wake up."Good Morning. You look pretty low still. Do you need to lay back down?"

"Ahhheeeegggaahhhhhhh," he responded while throwing himself to the floor with his illustrious Hippo blanket quickly being pulled back over his head.

"Wow, you are having a hard time already. Why don't you lie down?"

He immediately threw himself on the floor and covered his head just inches from my husband's gaming computer.

He closed his eyes and laid there.

I quickly stopped what I was doing and ushered him into the other room.That was met with the ceremonious screaming and stomping, which has truly become a morning ritual here.

"Gabriel, head upstairs, and come down when you are in a better mood, or you are ready for my help," I told him.

And under much protest he went back upstairs. By the time he got dressed, he was downstairs in jeans and a T-shirt. Mostly OK.

I mentioned the field trip today. What I didn't say was that it was an outside nature hike. And it is 80 here today.

"Gabriel, I see you put on jeans today, but did you see outside that it is really sunny? It is going to be hot out today. I need you to put on shorts."

"NO! I am NOT going back upstairs."

"But you'll need to go get your socks anyway--"

He produces a pair of socks from underneath his butt. Lovely. He literally pulled socks out of his ass to prove me wrong.

"Well good job remembering them." I say, "But we still have to go upstairs to get your medicine."

"I am NOT going to take my medicine!"

"Why don't we do this: You finish up your routine and we can talk about it again when we are upstairs getting your medicine."

He turns and leaves, giving me dirty looks and making guttural groans.

We make it to the part where he has had some breakfast, and we've gone through his backpack.

Out of the backpack he pulls a reminder about his field trip.

We begin to pack his lunch, but of course I do not have the directed brown bag for a "sac lunch". I am terrified that my B&W thinker will find this a problem, so I rephrase the letter on the fly while I am reading it to him.

"Please pack a saaaa----bagged lunch to bring with you.....and wear appropriate clothing for the weather.....dress in layers....wear socks and close toed shoes....."It was important that here hear there were directions on how to dress, and that it isn't just my idea. Easier to make my little rule follower comply.

He pseudo believes me about the clothes and I distract him quickly with some great art on a gallon sized ziploc bag of a rocket ship, stars, a moon and per request, an Alien. I even write the word Alien on his napkin, and he says, "I know this says 'Astro'." Almost.

Regardless, he is happy with the large lunch we packed (PB&J, Banana, Juice Box, Raisins, and Fish Crackers--something for every sense) and quickly shoves it in his pack. I remind him to take his two packages of organic chocolate creme filled cookies (Ah, like Oreos) without HFCS that his daddy so bailed me out by buying at ten o'clock last night, and he happily adds them to his pack.

Back to the clothing issue.

"I can't change my pants I have my shoes on!!" he blurts at me indignant that I do not see the dilemma.

"Head up, we're getting your medicine."

I follow him up the stairs where he immediately takes a hard left to his room, screaming that he is "not going," "hates field trips", and "won't take his medicine".

Another day in my life.

This is where I pause. I take a moment in the hallway and think to myself, "This is really my life." And I laugh. Mostly inside, but a little giggle slips out.

I go into his room, to find him undressing, but he is pissed off. He is crying and yelling and has begun putting on a pair of shorts that I can tell immediately are not his. They are Matthew's.

"Gabe those aren't yours. Stop a second." I try to avoid the inevitable need for him to change his clothes, yet again.

"NO! They were in my drawer!"

"Yes, I know that, but really, Daddy makes that mistake all the time. We still have to check the tag." I respond, thankful that his daddy does the laundry, and even more thankful that I have some one to blame. Much more logical that way. He reads that it says 4T and agrees that isn't his size. I open his drawer and hand him a different pair to wear. He puts them on.

"I am NOT putting my shoes back on."

"Fine, carry them into the bathroom." He does, and then takes his medicine under verbal protest. And downstairs we go, still carrying the shoes.We finish our routine, and I notice Gabe has put his shoes and his backpack on. It is about 8:34am. Approximately.

"I am ready to go now." He announces."Gabriel, it isn't time to go to school yet. Do you remember when we leave?"

"I am ready to go NOW!"

"Yes, but no one is at school now."

"I am ready to go NOW!"

"OK, but we don't leave until 8:55. You still have 20 minutes."

"I am ready to go NOW!"

"Gotcha. You are ready to go now."

"Yes." He says, relieved that I finally got it.

"Ok, can you find a waiting game while I get your brothers ready?"

"Can I watch a show?"

"Sure, but you might not have time to watch the whole thing."

"Ok." He shrugs like I should know he is the most flexible child in the world and that would be easy for him.

Sure enough, when it is time to go he is packed, ready, and his body is calm and organized. Why?

Because he has spent the last 20 minutes watching a show with a stuffed backpack on. For all of you who ask me about how to incorporate a "Sensory Diet" at home, here it is.

The proprioception he got from carrying his backpack with SO MUCH more food in it than normal, gave him the input he needed to raise his body's engine.

Proprioception to the rescue.

The moral of this story, "Let them deliver pickles",


In Real Life said...

This is super great! I love it! Let them carry pickles! Awesome! This is what I need for my daughter in the winter time - in the summer time her swing fixes everything, it is magic!

Heather B said...

My Eli always seems to do better when there is a purpose:) He is my helper whenever I have "work" to do outside. I find so many things that need to be carted across the lawn - and I'm always the most "forgetful mom in the world" so that he has to make several trips to the garage for more tools. Great ideas:)

Stacey,momof 2 said...

Reading this was like re-living my life recently-- yup give those SPd kiddo's some heavy work!

Anonymous said...

Very cool! I'll have to remember that one. As I was reading about your son getting more and more ticked off, I could feel my BP rising, as if it were my son- because he does things like that so often. Hard to not lose my temper even reading about it. Great blog!

Patty O. said...

I read in "Sensational Kids" that heavy work, deep pressure proprioception can help calm any kid, regardless of what kind of sensory problems they have (whether they are hypersensitive, sensory seekers, etc). That piece of information has saved my sanity. Now, I try, no matter what, to at least get that type of input for Danny every day.

We used to calm him down at church by having him carry his own (very heavy) backpack. Works like a charm.

Thanks for the reminder!

Elisa said...

Love it! I just got Daniel a little backpack and it has been working great!

danette said...

Great reminder... I am going to borrow Patty's idea of having the boys carry a backpack to church.