Too Revved Up to Sit Still?

All children need movement and plenty of exercise, which they get throughout the summer with camps, swimming and play-dates.  However, when school starts up again, the emphasis switches from outdoor play to sitting at a desk and children are expected to sit still and listen quietly for hours on end.  Some children learn to handle this transition, whereas others, especially those with sensory processing issues, find this change much more challenging.  When school starts, we need to keep in mind that our kids who crave sensory input still need a lot of movement breaks.  The ALERT program is a strategy to help kids recognize and name their arousal level in order to better self-regulate throughout the day.  This is a perfect strategy for the classroom because it helps kids monitor themselves and also effectively communicate their needs to their teachers.  Many teachers do not understand sensory integration disorder and will think your child is just being “naughty.”  The Alert program uses the analogy of an engine.  When a child’s arousal/energy level is high and they are unable to attend, their engine is running “fast.”  When a child is sitting attentively at their desk with eyes on the teacher or doing their classwork their engine is running “just right.”  Lastly when a child is tired or has low arousal and may be leaning on their desk their engine is running “slow.”  To make this program more personal it is fun to have the child choose a particular character or car to identify their “engine” level.  For example, a Ferarri for “fast,” a Mercedes for “just right” and a Prius for “slow.”  Animal analogies are fun too such as a rabbit and a turtle.  This program can be set up by your child’s occupational therapist and utilized at home and school.  Child Success Center can provide valuable parent and/or teacher guidance training as well as Occupational Therapy.  They can be reached at 310-899-9597.  Other information and articles that might be of interest can be found at the ALERT Program website at

Child Success Center
2023 S. Westgate Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Call 310-899-9597 to access our “warm” line.
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