The Alert Program-Self Regulation

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An Occupational Therapist recently provided this program for a student that had trouble with having too much energy in the classroom. The Alert Program provided a system for the student to recognize his energy and do activities to help him calm down to be ready for learning. Below are some of the concepts around the Alert Program to address self regulation.

Official Site: Here

Online Training: Here

How Does Your Engine Run?

How Does Your Engine Run, or The Alert Program (AP), is a specifically designed program for pre-school aged children and up that addresses self-regulation of arousal states. It uses the analogy of an automobile to introduce its concepts i.e. “If your body is like a car engine, sometime it runs on high, sometimes it runs on low, and sometime it runs just right”. The program is implemented in three stages: identifying engine speeds, experimenting with methods to change engine speeds, and regulating engine speeds. Visual aids along with practical instruction are used to enhance the learning experience. Many benefits are seen from using this program including enhanced abilities to learn, improved interactions, improved self-esteem, improved self confidence, and improved self-monitoring skills. The AP can be done in individual or group treatment settings. Source

Information

Self Regulation Mini Guide

Self-Regulation: Calm, Alert, and Learning*

Sensory Diet vs. The Alert Program (“How Does Your Engine Run”) What’s The Difference And How Can They Help MY Child?

Self Regulation and Sensory Integration How Does your Engine Run? Christal K. Peters, MS OTR/L PPT presentation

self-regulation-poster

So the idea is to get your engine running just right.

 

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Chart EXAMPLE

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Activities that are typically alerting, to “speed up engines”


In general:

  • rapidly changing/irregular inputs
  • quick tempos
  • music — lower frequencies will elicit movement (drums), while higher frequencies can engage attention (flutes, singing, cymbals)
  • cold temperatures (including foods)
  • light, brushing touch
  • fast movement, especially spinning/rotational
  • sour or spicy flavors
  • fast-moving, bright, unpredictable visuals
  • using muscles for “heavy work” of pushing, pulling, against resistance (tends to be both alerting and organizing, so can help lower “too fast engines” and raise “too slow engines”)

Activities/Strategies:

Swinging quickly on playground swing, especially with sudden changes of direction
Spinning on a swing or other equipment (can quickly become over-stimulating – use caution!)
Rocking quickly in a rocking chair
Running, skipping, galloping for at least 1-2 minutes (any type of aerobic exercise, really)
Rapid rocking/bouncing side to side
Jumping in place (trampoline, jumping jacks, jumping rope, etc.)
Motor breaks during school – stand and stretch, run an errand for teacher, walk to bathroom, etc.
Push on wall as if to move wall
Lean on desk for “desk push-up”
Do “chair push-up” in sitting by lifting bottom off floor or chair, holding self up with arms
Weight-bearing through arms via wheelbarrow walk, crabwalk, bearwalk, etc.
Ride a bike up hills (pedal against resistance)
Pushing or pulling heavy furniture; putting chairs on desks & taking down
Climbing playground equipment; crossing monkey bars
Carrying a stack of books, laundry, groceries, or something else approx. 5% of body weight
Drinking grapefruit, cranberry or other tart juice – try partially freezing it
Popsicles or frozen grapes or orange sections. Try frozen pickle chunks!
Pretzels, carrots, apples, granola, and other crunchy foods
Drinking through a long, thin straw, or reg. straw w/thick liquids (stimulates deeper breathing)
Blowing bubbles, whistle or other blown instrument (harmonica)
Move cotton balls by blowing through a straw (race cotton balls or play “soccer” on table)
Play with “fidget toy” for hands, such as small koosh ball
Dancing to rock, jazz, rap, or fast kids music
Cold shower or cold water on face or arms
Strobe light effects, fireworks, sometimes computer or video games or T.V.
Brightly lit room (full spectrum or natural light)
Walls decorated with bright, contrasting colors
Safe crashing: jump or fall into pile of pillows or mats; pillow fighting

 

Typically calming activities to “slow down” engines
In general:

  • slow, steady, rhythmic, repeated, predictable input
  • slow and rhythmic music
  • firm, steady, pressure touch or squeezing (think massage or a big hug)
  • using muscles for “heavy work” (see note above under alerting activities)
  • bland or sweet-tasting flavors
  • slow-moving, dim, deep-colors for visuals
  • neutral warmth
  • slow linear movements forward-and-back or head-to-toe

Activities and Strategies:

Rhythmic bouncing on a hippety-hop ball or seated on therapy ball
Steady, slow forward/back movement on swing or rocking chair
Rocking horse or see-saw; pushing off hard with legs
Listening to classical music, steady drums, or nature sounds (water, birds, waves)
Jumping on a trampoline, doing jumping jacks, or jumping rope
Riding a bike up hills (pedaling against resistance)
Pushing or pulling heavy furniture; putting chairs on desks & taking down
Carrying a stack of books, laundry, groceries, or something else approx. 5% of body weight
Carry backpack or “fanny pack” with some weight to it (not more than 5% of body weight)
Push on wall as if to move wall
Lean on desk for “desk push-up”
Hold self above chair seat, weight-bearing through arms, hands to side of seat for “chair push-up”
Weight-bearing through arms via wheelbarrow walk, crabwalk, bearwalk, etc.
Isometrics: push hands together, hook hands and pull apart, push knee against hand, etc.
Tug’o’war, “indian wrestling,” push’o’war back to back
Push with feet against something (push’o’war with a pillow between 2 peoples’ feet, no shoes)
Push or pull open and hold open heavy doors
Erase or wash chalkboards
Look at fish tank, snow globes, lava lamp, campfire, or other slow-moving visual
Dimly lit room, and sparsely-decorated walls (“cool” colors)
Eat chewy foods (send fruit roll-ups, bagels, dried fruit, cheese, gummy candy with lunch)
Chew on Chewy Tubes or Chewelry (avail. in some catalogs) or Theratubing
Wear spandex clothing, like bike shorts or long underwear (can wear either under regular clothes)
While in circle time or listening in seat, hold a lap weight (such as a large beanbag animal)
Use a heavy/weighted blanket; read or work lying on floor with pillows stacked on top
Wrap or roll-up in blanket or rug
Crawl through a tunnel of about 3 yards of 18” cotton T-shirt ribbing (avail in fabric stores)
Have an adult roll a therapy ball over body while lying on mat or rug
Squeeze stress ball or other resistive “fidget toy” (putty, beeswax, art erasers)
Put hands into container of beans or rice
Inflatable seat cushion (Move’n’sit or camping pillow) or sit on therapy ball for listening times
Safe crashing: jump or fall into pile of pillows or mats; pillow fighting
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