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More Insight: IEP language and Heavy Work

Tags: heavy
More from the chapter in Miller's book, Sensational Kids:

Discussing school adaptations, LaTonya has "an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) stating that she has sensory problems causing her to have behavioral issues that hurt her academic performance".  I took note of the specific wording here for possible use in Katie's plan.  "The plan contains specific objectives, and one of these is to calm her overreactivity so she can pay attention in class".  Again, wording that could apply specifically to Katie.

Miller goes on to discuss a particular intervention of Heavy work used in LaTanya's case "for calming her overalert sensory system and recharging her batteries for the big challenge of the classroom".  In this case, LaTanya goes to the library every morning and carries a load of heavy books to her classroom- one example of heavy work.  I wonder if such a scheme would be helpful for Kate too?

Miller defines Heavy Work here as "a term applied to any activity that engages the muscles and joints of the proprioceptive system".  She had previously explained the stimulating the proprioceptive sense can generate calming messages to the brain. "Tasks that engage more or bigger muscles generally create greater proprioceptive stimulation and have the biggest effect on behavior".  

"In (Occupational) therapy, children are taught to recognize when they need heavy work and to generate it for themselves with activities such as pushing against a wall or another resistant surface, pulling a heavy load like a wagon with another child as passenger, or walking up a flight of stairs".  Miller says that "heavy work tends to lower arousal levels and reduce cumulative effect so that the child is prepared for the next sensory surprise."  and "Heavy work for LaTanya (and Katie) is the equivalent of finding the volume button on the background noise that is always buzzing in her sensory system and turning it down."

Interesting note here, on one of Kate's visits to her therapist, the blinking tic was particularly bad and the therapist decided to try some heavy work.  She had Katie plant her feet and push hard against the wall, as if trying to push it over, and then gave her a squeeze ball and had her squeeze it as hard as she could for as long as she could hold it.  She reported to me later that after this the tic was gone and did not return for the rest of their session!  Hmmm, something to think about....

This post first appeared on Pieces Of Our Puzzle: Recognizing Sensory Processing Disorder, please read the originial post: here

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More Insight: IEP language and Heavy Work


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