“My son was chewing holes in his clothes. Every shirt he owned had a hole or two in the collar. He seemed to need to chew on something constantly, in addition to making noises and crashing into things. He was constantly seeking all kinds of sensory input. His occupational therapist suggested the Wilbarger Deep Pressure Brushing Protocol and said that he had seen other kids like him have success with the program.
Once upon a time, I never would have considered using a treatment without documented scientific results, but as the mother of a child with special needs, I have learned to be much more flexible and open minded. As I read more about the protocol, I discovered literature which recommended the program for kids with sensory avoidance issues, but nothing about using it for kids who were sensory seekers like my son.
Still, it wasn’t expensive, didn’t involve psychoactive drugs, and didn’t seem to have any lasting unpleasant side effects. It reminded me of the massages I used to give my son after his bath as a baby, and I remembered the calming effect those massages had on an infant who tended to be grumpy every evening. It merely required a significant time commitment on my part, so I figured it was worth a try.
We began the process by letting our son experiment with the brush. After I showed him how to do it, he “brushed” many of his adult relatives. We talked about it and let him know exactly what to expect. We gradually introduced a few brushings each day. Then, we began in earnest.
We did the brushing every two hours, or less, for six weeks. We brushed at home, in the car, at the doctor’s office, at the beach, and at school. My forearm ached for the first couple of weeks, but other than that, we experienced no negative results. We used a timer so that my son could see and planned activities so that we could allow time for brushing. We gave verbal warnings so that he would expect to be brushed.
Gradually, his need to chew on anything, and everything, lessened, then stopped altogether. We noticed less body movement, less crashing, fewer noises. He seemed to grow calmer and more adaptive to change as we continued. Gradually, we tapered the brushing, doing fewer each day. Now we usually brush once daily, just for maintenance.
I would definitely recommend this protocol to parents who have a child with sensory integration issues. It does require a lot of time and patience, but the rewards, in our case, were definitely worth the effort.”
–Kate, Clinton, MA