Although I tell people I meet and network with that I work with children who struggle in school, an incident I witnessed today opened my eyes to a wider range of children we can help.While sitting in a local coffee shop enjoying a coffee and Danish with my husband, a little boy around the age of five was in and out of his seat, spilling his bottled water on the floor, going behind to counter to say hi to someone he knew and just generally being ‘a pest’ as some might say about him.
After the water-spilling incident, his father (who was clearly done with his son’s antics) told him to get in his chair and sit still.When his son mentioned going to the park, his father told him clearly, “No, you lost that!”The boy began whining about going to the park and the father remained adamant that he would not be going.
My husband pointed out to me that this little boy needed to go to the park.(Okay, so I talk about work a lot when I’m home!)And that’s exactly what this little boy needed.He was seeking sensory information and needed to move!His little body was telling him what to do and not giving his brain a chance to rule for a while.
While it was clear to me that he needs sensory-motor help, it was also apparent that he was very bright and articulate, too.I saw this when he went in search of the person he knew working behind the counter and told her that they needed a mop quickly.When she questioned the family about needing a mop, he said, “Yes, we really need one right now!”
These actions are common in many of the children we see in our center – whether they struggle in school or not.Typically, however, when children struggle with sensory or motor skills, they also exhibit difficulties in school because their bodies are ruling their brains and they CAN’T STOP doing what they are doing.
This might include fidgeting in the seat resulting in the teacher telling them to sit still; it may include tapping pencils without realizing that they are doing it resulting in a “stop making noise” comment; or more common still is a child who just CAN’T stay in their seat.
In these situations, the child is blamed – although they can’t help what they are doing and certainly don’t understand what’s happening with them!Too many times, parents and teachers don’t even know what is going on, so the child gets yelled at, sent to the hallway in school or sent to their room or to time out at home – where the behavior continues because they can’t stop it.
This doesn’t have to be the case for children, however.Occupational Therapists or Physical Therapists with training in sensory-motor integration or learning centers with multi-sensory programming, can all train a child’s system to regulate itself to allow for the brain to begin ruling the body.This will result in a much calmer and focused child who is able to learn how they should.
Have you seen this little boy in your town? Do your children have ‘friends’ like this?
This blog is meant to help parents, educators and other professionals recognize what may be going on with children, so please click on the comment link at the top of this post to share your thoughts and stories to help more kids get the help they need.