Missing Class time vs. Sensory Break…
Something that we have struggled with during our 2 years of public school is making sure Jack has his much needed sensory breaks to prevent overload meltdowns. During his kindergarten year he only had a handful of times where he went to the resource room to decompress. In his IEP, he is allotted a 30 minute sensory break in the Resource room per day, however, he rarely used it. Why? Because he was missing out on school work. The only time he ever went to the Resource room was when he was at the point of a sensory overload. I agree with the school about keeping him in the class as much as possible so he can continue to learn with his peers, but there had to be a solution so he could continue to learn while having his sensory needs met. I have supplied Jack with plenty of fidgets and sensory school tools, but sometimes those are just not enough. So we started to brainstorm.
This is “Jack’s Cart”. What is it? It is his much needed sensory break. I came up with the idea that instead of missing out on 30 minutes of class time, let’s create a sensory break in between subjects so he can have some alone time, responsibility time, and sensory time. So I let his teacher decide when she thought he is on the verge of an overload or when he had a hard time transitioning during the day. This could be after a loud lunch or after sitting quietly for a long period of time. So twice a day he gets a sensory break and he takes “Jack’s Cart” down to the Resource room and then picks it up later in the day. The Resource room is across the school, so it takes him about 7 minutes to do this. This gives him the just the right amount of sensory input he needs without missing class.
How, Where, What, Why:
So, we went to Walmart and picked up this office crate for $20 and I let him decorate it, with Lego stickers of course. Jack needed to be a part of this project because he is very aware of his “wiggles” even though he doesn’t know the term SPD. Then we filled it up with weights. I put about 40 pounds of weight in the bottom of this crate. (The crate holds 50 lbs.) I had some dumbbell weights and a Kettle ball sitting around the house and used his weighted belt for the bottom of the cart.. Then we put all of his “School Tools” (fidget box, weighted lap pad animal, wiggle seat, chair bands etc. on top of all the weights. This cart sits in the teachers office with all of his “School Tools” and he has access to them anytime he needs something out of it. Jack loves the sense of ownership about this cart. He also loves that he is responsible to take this cart all by himself down to the resource room. He also loves that it takes effort to use this cart, not only to balance it on 2 wheels to pull it, but it is heavy enough to make him work. So, in the morning in between subject transitions, he takes the cart down to the resource room, then in the afternoon he brings it back to his classroom. He does this in plenty of time to not miss any learning.
We have used this almost 5 months and he LOVES it. Plus, I am happy that he is still learning with his peers and he is getting what his body needs to learn.