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3 Practical Strategies to Help Support Self-Regulation

One of the hardest things to watch is to see your child melting down and wondering how to comfort and soothe him.  As a pediatric OT, I’m always brainstorming ‘pro-active’ strategies for parents to use and how to read and understand their child’s cues.

I find myself often recommending the following 3 ‘pro-active’ strategies:

  • Be a Detective-  Be a ‘detective’ and watch for signs or patterns of behavior leading to your child’s meltdowns.  This can help to better understand what might be common triggers, such as loud sounds, busy environment, the demands of the activity are just some examples.  It might be helpful to write or journal these observations, so you can better identify the patterns.  Once you have a sense of possible triggers for these meltdowns (whether it be the environment or the situation at hand), you can equip yourself with the following suggestions.
  • ‘Body checks’-  Comparing your child’s energy level to an engine in a car helps to connect the awareness that just like a car, we move and function at different speeds throughout our day. Sometimes though our body, just like a car, can move at ‘too high’ or ‘too fast’ of speed, which can be unsafe or can cause us to lose control. When in a setting that is inclined to overstimulate (birthday parties, play dates, etc.), have your child do a ‘body-check’ here and there, to let you know where his ‘engine’/body speed is running.  Use simple words, such as ‘high’, ‘medium’, ‘low’ speed. The ‘body-checks’ help a child build more awareness of her body and increasing energy levels, as well as helps to break up the stimulation that may be building in that moment.
  • Create a Non-verbal Signal- Create a non verbal signal/gesture that you can use with your child to signify his ‘engine’/body speed is beginning to get into the ‘danger’ or ‘too fast’ zone. This can be used to catch your child’s attention when he is playing with friends, without having to use words, which can add to the stimulation.  Teach the signal beforehand and remind your child to be on the look out for it.

And of course, a wonderful ‘pro-active and ‘re-active’ strategy can be wearing and using RelaxPack to help calm, regroup, and soothe!

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Why Is the Hug Belt So Effective?: The Science Behind Deep Pressure

What is The Hug Belt?

One of the unique features of RelaxPack is the Hug Belt that provides deep pressure to one’s midsection. It’s made with a neoprene material to give it extra stretch and encompasses a Velcro fastener to secure it as tightly as one prefers.  The immediate effect of the deep pressure or squeeze provided by the Hug Belt, is a sense of stability, calmness, and support.

The Science Behind Deep Pressure:

The benefits of deep-pressure touch, hugging, and cuddling are well established, as these sensations stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that make people feel more relaxed. This type of sensation can also stimulate portions of the limbic system, the brain’s network for processing emotion, such as happiness.

For children who have an over-reactive nervous system to stimuli (touch, sounds, sights, tastes, etc.), and who can escalate in response to everyday experiences, can use deep pressure to help over-ride the autonomic response of flight or fight that our sympathetic nervous system signals to warn us of potential danger.  In the cases of an over-active response, when the response is disproportionate to the situation, a person needs access to tools to regulate and return back to a normal calm state.  The Hug Belt does exactly this as it provides soothing deep pressure both proactively (avoiding the triggers) and reactively (when the triggers occur) to soothe and calm.  We know the benefits of deep pressure and hugs, but sometimes children with sensory processing disorders or autism can’t always tolerate hugging or cuddling, as this touch from another person can feel unpredictable at times, which can make it more stressful versus calming. The Hug Belt allows them to have total control of how tight and how long of a ‘hug’ they need.  The Hug Belt is hands down one of our favorite features of RelaxPack!

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Backpack Tips

Although RelaxPack, with its built-in sensory comforting features, is much more than a basic backpack, it comes with the same reminders on the importance of a properly fitted backpack to minimize strain on the body and maximize comfort and the effectiveness of its features.

We all know that students are carrying more weight in their backpacks than ever before.  Between textbooks, school supplies, and everything in between, the bag is continually weighed down.  This is why RelaxPack was never designed to be a weighted backpack, but rather taking the weight in the bag and distributing through the use of the Hug Belt.  The beauty of the Hug Belt is it not only provides soothing compression, but also seconds as a back brace to alleviate the weight and tension that a heavy backpack brings.

Check out this link for more tips to ensure a properly fitted backpack each and every time it’s worn:

Backpack Wearing Tips