Giving them little paws some much needed sensory feedback!

scarlettbangingScarlett is a BANGER, not a tapper, patter or a knocker she uses the palm of her hand and a massive amount of brute force to bang all that her little exploratory mitts come into contact with.

I am going to be honest… this relentless obsession with Scarlett’s banging has been pretty much the bain of my existence.  I tried everything to make it stop, it kept me up all night, it has got her in trouble when she has been out and about in public and bless my poor neighbour’s heart, he cheered with joy when Scarlett’s metal bed frame was removed and replaced with an ‘un-bang-able’ divan.

The constant drumming on everything and anything really took a toll on me mentally, I know it might sound a little dramatic but Scarlett really really bangs hard.  She can keep it up for hours too and it became like a jack hammer in my head.  When I would hear her wake up in her room I knew it was coming, there was nothing to do to stop it.  I felt so helpless.  I even attended a 12 week parenting course to see if there was anything they could suggest to help me get her to stop.  But there wasn’t much luck there either.

outofsyncIt wasn’t until I read the Out Of Sync Child book by Carol Stock Kranowitz that I finally felt I had found some answers.  It was like for the first time in 4 years I knew why she was doing it and could finally see a way out of it.

Banging on items is not the only way a child can express an imbalance in their nervous systems, there are many types of touch indicators that may suggest your child has problems processing the sense of touch:

The tactile system processes touch experiences felt through the skin as light touch, firm touch or pressure, static touch, moving touch, temperature, pain, and comfort. There are two primary functions of the tactile system. One is protection and the other is discrimination.

The protective touch function is neurologically bound to the limbic system of the brain.  This system is described as the emotional control center with direct connections to the primal flight or fight responses. The protective function of the skin is reflexive and primarily unconscious with touch sensations automatically categorized into calming, soothing, familiar sensations, or into danger reactions.

The discrimination functions of the skin are conscious, cognitive tasks that are learned through experience.  These include touch localization, recognition, and stereognosis. Localization refers to knowing where on the body one is being touched. Tactile recognition is required to learn characteristics of objects such as size, shape, texture, and the weight of items.  Stereognosis is object recognition through touch.

Signs of tactile system imbalance:

  • Reacts negatively to touch, does not like being picked up or hugged.
  • Does not like being touched and may rub or press on his or her skin after being touched.
  • Startles easily.
  • Inability to feel touch immediately and responses are delayed.
  • Extraordinarily high or low tolerance for pain.
  • Does not like certain clothing or tags in clothes, and wears clothes for the wrong season.
  • Does not like band-aids or stickers on skin.
  • Uncomfortable wearing shoes or socks, or unwilling to walk barefoot.
  • Does not like brushing hair or teeth, or cleaning and trimming nails.
  • Avoids certain foods because of texture, or does not chew food well.
  • Rejects touching messy materials and will not handle clay, mud, shaving cream.
  • Washes or wipes hands often.
  • Uses fingertips instead of the entire hand.
  • Has a hard time sitting still.
  • Is poorly coordinated, is a heavy walker, or walks on toes.
  • Craves touch and may over-touch others or objects.
  • Doesn’t notice when hands or face are messy.
  • Doesn’t notice when clothes are twisted, or when feet are not well placed in shoes.

Information provided by http://www.tsbvi.edu/instructional-resources/3159-occupational-therapy-and-sensory-integration-for-visual-impairment.

Now, I can only comment on my experiences with Scarlett’s banging and how I have nearly managed to eradicate it completely from our lives!

Vibrating toys have been the key, the movement of the item seems to provide Scarlett with the feedback her body is craving, which in turn has taken up a lot of her attention.  A good way I found to understand it is this, if you have a need for something then you turn your attention to it! It makes perfect sense when you put it like that… it can be similar to when you are hungry and your body is craving food and you cannot concentrate and it is all you can think about.  I suppose Scarlett is constantly starving, starved to feel vibration through her hand, hard pressure.

We have been used vibrating toys for a while now and I think that teamed with the sensory diet she is delivered at school means her ‘vibration starvation’ is growing less and less by the day.

And all I can say is THANK GOD FOR THAT! I have in my darkest hours considered gaffa taping oven mitts to Scarlett’s hands…. yes I know, not one of my finest hours but creative none the less.

Here are some of the toys I have purchased to help Scarlett:

The vibrating snake.  This is my favourite product by far.  High intensity of vibration, versatile and pretty much indestructible!  We are on vibrating snake number two, as she did bite through the first one eventually, but for between £15 and £20 it is worth replacing.

viperating-snake

 

 

The vibrating duck:  This has been great as it provides the vibration Scarlett needs but can also be used in sensory stories and nursery rhymes.  It helped Scarlett learn to explore an item with her hands that previously she wouldn’t have engaged with.

vibratingduck

 

The Bobble Ball:  This not only vibrates and bounces around but laughs too!  Scarlett really enjoys playing with this, it moves around lots and she really enjoys the giggles that go along with it.  It is activated by shaking it so it is really easy for a young child to learn it’s function and operate it independently.

bobbleball

 

If you have a child who bangs then maybe something like this may help, these aids aren’t expensive so they are worth a try.  I really do wish I tried these years ago 🙂

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