Friday, October 18, 2013

Way Too Much Hugging Going On

One of my teachers for middle school students with autism asked me how to help a student who can't get enough hugging.  The student is doing above grade level academics but she is constantly craving full hugs from teachers and sitting way too close to other students for their comfort. 

Here are some ideas we discussed--what would you recommend???

Resistance Exercises: Use Thera-band, Thera-tubing or bands cut from the lower 6” of old t-shirts. Since she likes to feel deep pressure there are several resistance exercises that might provide her with that input and I can show you some.

Figure out where to mark a square or “x” on the floor and have student stand inside the square, leaning heavily against the wall with flat palms, a straight back and flat feet. Push away from the wall and clap real hard before landing back on the wall with flat palms. Repeat at least 10 times. If clapping is too loud for the classroom you don’t have to include that.

Does she have Special PE? There may be some stretches or exercises which can be done in the classroom. If she’s familiar with yoga she might do poses that require upper body weight bearing. If that’s weird in the open classroom do you have room dividers to create an exercise area?

Keep a large zip-up sweatshirt on back of chair, show her how to zip herself up with the back of the sweatshirt behind the chair. Lean forward for the feeling of being compressed/squished.

If you feel that you can have a sitting ball in your classroom, with the students respecting the safety rules for using it, try a ball that inflates to the height of student chairs. If you put the ball inside a large cardboard box that comes half-way up the sides of the ball that will help it be more stable (but not totally safe). The vertical movement of gently bouncing and adjusting your position on the ball are also weight bearing activities. This can be a risky addition to the classroom so use your best judgement.

After doing “wall push-ups” on the chalkboard, practice drawing a simple sketch from a drawing book which relates to a topic being discussed that day. Or, allow the student to tape her paper on the board and write while standing. (Working arms in anti-gravity position while drawing; joint compression and upper body strengthening which some students find calming; increase success in drawing to increase interest in journal writing or other academics which include student drawing)

Classroom job--Extra clean up of student desks, tables. Student or adult squirts thin line of shaving cream on table surfaces, then uses hands to spread it over the table. Student then uses thick cloth to wipe up cream from table, followed by using a drying towel. (This is not really a “cleaning.” Good for L to R sequencing, weight bearing through arms, sequencing of a task).

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