Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Wilbarger Protocol

After Joseph's initial evaluation by the occupational therapist at Children's Hospital, I was given information about sensory integration disorder and sensory diets. I read it, but wasn't entirely sure how to implement it. More recently I asked for clarification on the sensory diet, how to structure one and implement it. Last week they had some new photocopies for me, including some pages on the Wilbarger Protocol, more commonly known as "brushing."

At first I didn't understand why I would want to do this and what the benefit would be. Simply, one uses a surgical brush to brush the child's extremities and back, and then "compress" the joints. It's a ritualistic process, and is essentially a sort of massage, systematically stimulating Joseph's senses. As I read more about it I learned that it is supposed to calm him and reduce hyperactive tendencies, which is something that Joseph needs desperately.

We've not yet been able to get into the every two hours schedule that is recommended. While school starting has helped some sort of routine congeal, we're still not great with adhering to a regular schedule. But we've been brushing him in the mornings before school, and when he gets home at lunch time, then again when Kristy comes home from work, and finally just before bed. He sometimes struggles a little, not because it's unpleasant for him but because he doesn't want to sit still. But generally, he likes the process and will even walk with us, unguided, to our bedroom when we tell him it's brushing time. In the last week I think he's really started to mellow out. He's less wild, better able to focus, and more likely to sit still. I'm looking forward to seeing what effect the brushing will have on him over a longer period. I'm also going to email his teacher and see if they have anyone available there who is trained in how to do this that might be able to administer a mid-morning brushing.

If you have anything to say about brushing, particularly any helpful tips, please leave a comment.

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