Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Motor Breaks and Prader Willi Syndrome

I have mentioned many times, in previous posts, that I feel fortunate to be sharing Nick's journey with so many unique individuals who seem to possess their own special brand of healing energy. Mrs. T, Nick's teacher, is one of them.

In the few short months that she has worked with Nicholas, she has made some critical observations of Nick's idiosyncrasies. By making some simple adjustments in his schedule to accommodate these quirks, she has made a huge impact in alleviating his anxiety and improving his success in the classroom.

One of them is the importance of motor breaks.

Nicholas can become frustrated and tire easily when asked to perform non preferred activities at school. Things like math work, for instance, would cause an increase in Nick's anxiety. He would often begin to tantrum when asked to begin this work.

So, to de-escalate the building storm and encourage him to use his words, she will divert his attention and simply ask him...

"Nicholas, you seem frustrated, would you like to take a motor break?"

His answer is always a resounding "yes" since he now escapes (temporarily) from this demand.

"Can you tell me using your words, what you would like?" she asks.

"Mrs. T, I am tired, can I take a break?"

"Why yes, of course."

This technique gives him a sense of power while simultaneously teaches him to begin using his words to express when things are difficult for him.

It also secretly incorporates exercise into his daily routine.

Once Nick asks for a break, his aide, Mr. D walks him down two flights of stairs to the PT room. Here, he sits on the bouncy ball and jumps up and down. He may go over to the mini trampoline and jump on that for a while. He performs any of a number of exercises to "get his blood flowing". This physical activity seems to wake him up and magically improves his frame of mind. He then returns to the classroom where he is much more motivated to begin his non preferred activity.

Mrs T has found that not only is rest and frequent breaks important to a student diagnosed with PWS, but she has also incorporated several motor breaks into Nick's daily routine. These strategically placed breaks, give him the important exercise he needs and helps maintain a more positive and happy demeanor.

It has worked wonders in improving his temperament.

We have now incorporated this into his IEP.

Once again, I wonder if the physical activity helps to stimulate a slow moving and dysfunctional Autonomic Nervous System?

I hope this is helpful information to any of my fellow PWS parents.