Sensory Items: Therapeutic Tools for Children and Adults Alike
By: Lourdes Zarro
Did you know that we have a hidden sense? CCA’s Secondary ESE Coordinator Lourdes Zarro shares how this sense affects our day-to-day lives and how it responds to weighted sensory products, which can have a calming effect for people struggling with anxiety, stress, attentional deficits, or insomnia.
We all receive sensory input on a daily basis. Our senses help us understand the world around us. Our eyes help us to see, our ears to hear, our nose to smell, our tongue to taste, and our hands to touch.
But there is a hidden sense that we don't see called proprioception. Proprioception helps us to organize all of the sensory input that we are receiving and provides us with awareness of where our bodies are in space. It also allows us to gauge force.
Proprioception provides necessary input to help us navigate our surroundings.
For example, proprioception helps us to know how much force we should use when kicking a ball, squeezing toothpaste, shaking a hand, or giving the appropriate force in a hug.
As you can see, proprioception provides necessary input to help us navigate our surroundings.
Weighted products can help stimulate the proprioceptive sense. This input causes the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, which have a calming effect for people experiencing anxiety, stress, or attentional deficits.
Weighted products come in a variety of shapes and sizes. At CCA, we use these products in some of our ESE classrooms.
For example, a child might work at their desk while wearing a weighted neck wrap or weighted vest. Others might sit to read a book while holding a weighted animal or placing it on their lap. These products provide the student with unconscious information from their muscles and joints, keeping them focused and grounded.
Weighted products can benefit adults as well and be used by God to provide a sense of calmness when stressed or anxious.
Weighted products can benefit adults as well and be used by God to provide a sense of calmness when stressed or anxious. They may also help people struggling with insomnia, according to a 2015 study that was published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders and featured in Psychology Today.
Here are some weighted products that I recommend for both children and adults. Although they are generally safe, please consult with your doctor first to ensure they do not pose a risk to you or your child:
I encourage you to discover this hidden sense for yourself by incorporating some of these products at home. Feel free to share your experience with me in the comment section below or by emailing me at LourdesZ@CCAEagles.org!
Before turning to such products or other coping mechanisms to find relief from stress or anxiety, may we first and foremost cast our worries upon Jesus. Why? Because He cares for you and me (1 Peter 5:7).
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” —2 Thessalonians 3:16
Lourdes Zarro is the Secondary ESE Coordinator at CCA and CEO of Sonfish Outdoor Adventure Program, a non-profit providing outdoor therapy for families living with disabilities. Having begun her career in 1989, Lourdes has over 30 years of experience helping families navigate the challenges associated with Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Varying Exceptionalities. As a parent, she has experienced the joy and challenges that come with having a child with a learning disability. It is her professional goal to provide families with opportunities that stretch their child’s abilities and fulfill their emotional and social needs.
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