Often school-based occupational therapists are asked by teachers for suggestions for movement breaks for kids who have sensory processing challenges. At one of the schools I serve, I decided to be a little more proactive, since the referrals for sensory screenings were *a little high* there. In the corner of one of the hallways (immediately outside the particular teacher’s room who refers the most), I set up a simple calming center! Here the classroom staff can bring students who need calming breaks, complete with sample activities and related materials. I kept the activities simple, our suggestions need to be “doable” if there will be any follow through. Just a few fun proprioceptive activities to provide some deep pressure or heavy work for calming effect.
I found that a simple consultation with the teachers in this school went a long way. A little modeling for a few students/teachers and a few personal invites really helped. The results were that teachers were beginning to utilize the center with their kids. They even identified other kids who may benefit from some calming breaks, and tried it out on their own. Without me!
What did I learn? Be proactive. Communicate. Model. This is all it took to lessen referrals.
Calmer kids. And happier teachers!