Occupational Therapy News: Alert Program

Alert Program – How does my engine run?
By OT Students: Bridget, May and Jo

In Term 1, a focus of the OT program has been implementing the ALERT Program in year 1 through to year 3. The ALERT program is designed to assist a child to self-regulate their emotions and behaviour. The 4th year Curtin University OT students have been running these sessions, aiming to educate the children about their “engine speed” and how they can change it. The ALERT program is based on the concept of sensory processing and how our bodies experience these sensations in different environments, which can make us feel and act in certain ways.

ALERT program “Engine” theory
Our bodies are like engines of a car, sometimes they run low, sometimes they run high and sometimes they run just right. For an engine that is running at low speed, we might see a child that is tired, not wanting to learn, zoned out and/or floppy. For an engine that is running at high speed, we might see a child that is overexcited, out of control and upset or angry. If a child’s engine is running just right, they are able to learn, play well, make green choices and participate with their peers. It is important to remember that everyone’s ‘just right’ is unique and that each child’s engine runs differently, requiring different sensory stimulus to change their speed.

Engine changers:
There is a range of sensations (moving, touching, smelling, tasting, listening and looking). that can assist a child to change their engine speed. These can include doing yoga, running, smelling some lavender, tasting a sour lemon, listening to music, or turning down the lights if they’re too bright.

What did the ALERT session include?
Children were taught that they have an engine like a car’s engine through reading a story, listening to music, doing cosmic kid yoga and completing a worksheet. The session also aimed to educate children on how their body’s engine can run in different ways and what can make it change. Music is one of the ways to change the way our body feels and the children played a game where they were able to identify how different types of music made their engine feel. We also did several yoga positions to show the children how using our whole body can make us feel just right. At the end of the session, children were involved in small group discussions with an OT student where they thought of some activities they can do at home and school that makes their engine feel just right.

The story they listened to can be found online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aGOFqmRvxg

What can YOU do at home?