Occupational Therapy News: The Alert Program

The Alert Program®

At the Fremantle LDC the Alert Program is used to support student and teacher self-regulation. The language of this program, visual supports and sensory tools are used in all classrooms to help your child feel switched on and in a “just right” arousal zone.

This week as part of your child’s health or physical education lesson, we have been learning about the Alert Concepts.

What is the Alert Program®

Our bodies are like engines of a car, sometimes they run high, sometimes they run low and sometimes they run just right. If your engine is running on high speed you might be overexcited, out of control and not want to sit still. If your engine is running on low speed you might feel tired and zone out, not wanting to learn. If your engine is just right it is easier to learn, play and get along with others.

In order for children to focus their attention, manage their emotions and control their behavior, their engines need to be at their just right speed, more of the time. Everyone’s just right is different!

Engine Changers

Activities can change our engine speeds throughout the day. These “engine changers” come from a range of sensations including movement, touch, looking, listening and smell and taste.


Being able to manage the pace of your engine and knowing how to change it is called self-regulation. Self-regulation is vital for all people to use and can be developed over time. You can help your child to self regulate by:

  • Talking about the pace at which their body is running (e.g. “How is your engine running?”)
  • Talking about how they can change their engine speed. Parents giving examples of what they do to change their own engines can be an excellent model for children.
  • Participating in regular physical activity throughout the day ie walk breaks, heavy load activities, ride a scooter, walk the dog, trampolining, dancing etc.

Your child may indicate a preference for certain engine changers to help them feel just right, such as sitting on a wobble cushion, going for a run before they do homework, listening to music as they read. It is helpful for children to learn self-regulation when family and teachers support them in finding what makes them feel just right.

The classroom has access to several items for students to use, however if your child wishes to use something in particular from home, talk to the teacher about how this may be incorporated into the class.

Other great resources to support self-regulation include:

  • Smiling mind app, which helps us to be mindful
  • Cosmic Yoga for mindfulness and being physically active

You can find links to these on https://www.lil-peeps.com.au/wellbeing or visit Lil Peeps OT for Kids YouTube channel for a parent friendly “Self Regulation” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFNtewS_Cqk

Lil’ Peeps has integrated concepts from the AlertProgram® into its therapeutic approaches. The Alert Program® concepts and specific vocabulary, including the use of the “engine analogy” are intellectual property of TherapyWorks, Inc. For further information about the program, free YouTube videos, and other resources, please visit: AlertProgram.com.

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