I cannot remember when I first heard the gas pump providing me with today’s weather, advertisements, etc. I actually googled this, but the only “article” I could find would not be very professional to link to in this blog post. (Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks about gas pumps). But I will tell you that at the end of day when I typically pump gas the last thing I want to hear is all of that background noise. I am originally from a small town in the midwest. I am grateful they have not caught up to speed in the gas pump arena per se. It would be wonderful if there were an on/off switch for the pump. I mean, is it really necessary? Is anyone listening to what that TV monitor has to say? Me, personally…I probably want to zone out for a minute or want to think about the next 5 things I will do when I get home. At the end of the day, I need a some quiet time and time to process and regroup.
Ever think about this for our kiddos? I hear all of the time, my child held it together at school and unloaded when he/she got home. Many of our kiddos need downtime after school. I encourage my families to carve some quiet time after school into their kiddo’s day before heading for errands, more therapy, etc. Let them regroup and process. What does this look like? There is not a set rule as to how long or what strategies you might think about. I would consider what your child gravitates towards and have a quieter area in the house. Maybe a beanbag chair or a Big Joe chair (Remember from the last blog post about your body being comfortable in space to improve attention). Allow for some coloring, iPad, TV, music, exercise, yoga, outside time, etc. Depending upon your child he/she may benefit from the routine of doing the same thing after school. Some kiddos ( including those on the Autism Spectrum ) thrive given the same routine. Consider a choice board made of 4-6 pictures of preferred items and let the child choose what after school activity he/she participates in. Many of my kiddos are visual learners and benefit from a picture schedule. Consider having a vertical picture system of what evening time looks like to increase the child’s knowledge of his day and to decrease his anxiety. Most of us as adults know what our daily schedule looks like to help us go about our day, so why not provide the same concept for the child? Find what works in your home, within your day, but try to carve that time out for your child.
Some of our older kids may benefit from creating a “tool box” provided within the Zones of Regulation book. Let your child pick out the strategies to create his/her own toolbox. I recently had a couple of my kiddos select, cut out (yes, we built in some cutting for fine motor), and color their strategies. We glued the pictures all over a box I had covered with construction paper for their own toolbox. For any strategy, be sure to include the child as much as possible so the child feels like he/she has ownership and some independence choosing what works for him or her. And when you start to incorporate this quiet time, think about the gas pump and our natural tendency as human beings to fill that silence. PAUSE, Breathe, Let there be quiet.
These breaks may also be necessary within the school day, within your daily routine, within a therapy session. I try to build in (auditory) breaks during transitions for my kiddos that can tolerate waiting. While I clean up and bring out the next activity, I do not need to talk during the transition time. I may be inclined too but it is not necessary. PAUSE. Make the transition quietly. Sometimes I will build a snack into sessions. Snacks can provide the kiddos a crunch in their mouth or a taste the child is drawn to, to help wake up the mouth. (another blog post). Let the child communicate for his/her snack and then enjoy quietly. Especially our little ones! Ever consider how much energy it must take for a kiddo in a 45-60 minute therapy session? I would rather have a good 40 minutes with your kiddo than stretch it an hour and have that child ready to combust by the end. Once again, if you take into account sleep, how the child is feeling, etc, that child may need a break. More is not always better. Use your best judgment.
Thank you for reading this post…I hope you will consider joining me next week for a follow up to gas pumps and the world that keeps on talking. (Just enter your email and click sign me up. Wordpress will send you a confirmation email.) We are going to talk a little bit about ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) and Apraxia and providing those PAUSES. Share with your friends and be sure to grab a cup of coffee too!