Shake Your Sillies Out

Once I’d wrapped up the “language” portion of the presentation, it was time to address some of the questions that Bud’s classmates had about his sensory issues.

“Okay,” I said. “Next question. Some of you asked ‘Why does Bud run in circles?’ or ‘Why does he need to take movement breaks?’ This is the way I think about the answer to those questions.

“Remember how we said that our brains control everything our body does? Well, our brains also control our senses. Can anyone tell me what the five senses are?”

The child directly across the room from me, who asked to be identified as “The Amazing Platypus” if I wrote about him on the blog, raised his hand and I called on him.

“Okay,” he said, “there’s hearing, and seeing, and feeling…. and, um… tasting, and…. wait, how many was that?”

“That was four,” Ms. Walker answered.

“And, um,” continued The Amazing Platypus. “Wait, which ones did I say?”

“You missed smell,” his classmates reminded.

“Yeah!” he responded. “And smelling!”

“That’s right,” I said. “Sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Our brains control all of those things, and so sometimes, Bud’s hair dryer brain experiences those things a little differently than our toaster brains.

“So, here’s a question: Did you ever sit for a long time in the same position, and then when you stood up again your foot felt kind of funny?”

“YES!” came the cries and giggles from around the room.

“It gets tingly,” said Nathan, “but it doesn’t really hurt.”

“Sometimes it does,” said Brandon. “Sometimes it feels like a porcupine.” The other kids chimed in with their experiences of limbs that had fallen asleep.

“That’s right,” I said. “It’s all pins-and-needles, right? So, what do you do when that happens? Show me what you do when your foot feels all tingly.”

The kids started shaking their feet and tapping and stomping on the floor, and I shook, tapped and stomped along with them. “And then,” I said, speaking up over the stomping, “what if the tingling gets worse? What if your whole LEG gets tingly?” They shook and stomped faster and harder.

“And THEN,” I said, even louder, “what if your whole BODY feels all pins-and-needles?” They laughed as I stood up and shook all over, trying to work out my imaginary pins and needles. “And THEN,” I said, still stomping and shaking and wiggling, “what if somebody came along and asked you to do MATH?”

The class erupted in laughter, and I sat back down.

“I think that’s how it feels for Bud when he has to sit in the same place for a long time,” I said. “So, when that happens, what do you think he needs to do?”

“Take a movement break!” they answered.

“That’s right,” I said. “He needs to get up and move or run around in circles for a while until his body feels normal again, and then he can sit down and do his work.”

Coming up: Question #5 - Why do noises bother Bud?

Mom-NOS’s Shake Your Sillies Out, the sixth entry in a series for Mondays at Shift Journal, was first published at MOM – Not Otherwise Specified, and appears here under the terms of this Creative Commons License.

on 11/1/10 in Autism, featured | No Comments | Read More

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