Thursday, March 17, 2011

Therapy Thursday ... The Alert Program

This week Tom Sawyer is learning step one of the Alert Program. The Alert Program helps children understand how their "engine" runs and how to calm or alert themselves to get to feeling "just right". Also, for a child like mine who thinks that "just right" is a bit chaotic, this program helps them retrain themselves to more normal levels. Because Tom Sawyer was born addicted to crack and had exposure to other unknown drugs in utero, he feels "normal" at a much more chaotic internal state and desires constant stimulation. This ends up appearing ADHD or autistic, even though he is not. For example, he can be spinning or bouncing his sister's ponytail and when asked how he feels he says, "just right". For the next week, we will be asking him how he feels based on the below chart. We will then record how he feels and how we think he feels. The next step will be getting his body used to what calm feels like. 

One stimulation we have added to our home to stave off his constant sensory deprivation is a rice bucket. He sits in the bucket filled with 50 pounds of rice and plays with toys or spoons while listening to a book on tape or during family chapter book time. He is retaining more and is much less disruptive. It is a win-win for everyone. He can also sit in the rice with a clipboard and do his math or grammar page. Being in the rice gives many of the pressure points of his body input and helps him feel more centered.

Interestingly, he feels a bit uncomfortable in what we would call a "just right" state. He is not used to it, so we can see him trying to rev his engine to what he thinks is normal by spinning or leaping about.  When this happens, we have to give him more sensory input to keep grounding him. This is exhausting for his parents, since at this time he needs input every 15 to 20 minutes. However, every minute we can keep him in the proper just right state will become more normal to him. In time he will learn to desire the normal, just right state. 



  1. I think this could work well for our son, but wonder . . . where do you store it? I could just see 50 lbs. of rice strewn throughout the house. :) But that may be because our boy is so little still.

  2. This is amazing! I enjoyed learning.

  3. Hi Dawn. Thanks for stopping by. The Thumbnails next to the blog name in my side column is part of blogger Blog list Gadget. Go to design, Find your Blog list Gadget. Under Show, Click on Thumbnail. I like it because I can see at a glance who has updated their blog.

  4. This is soooooo neat. I love all this learning I am getting by reading what you are doing with your ds. As a kid I would have loved to have a rice play area I am sure. [o= He is a blessed little guy to have parents like you. I pray blessings as your little guy finds the healthy just right stage.

    Blessings and ((HUGS))

  5. Hi Dawn, how I admire you & your hubby. You guys are a blessing from God. I am praying for you and your hubby to be blessed with all the strength you'll need following through with the plan God has placed upon your lives. God Bless you.