As I’ve mentioned before one of the things that is very difficult for F is making transitions from one activity to another. He has a “one-track mind” and once he is set on something it is very hard for him to disengage from that activity and get into another one. He can get very agitated and meltdown and it is often hard for us to tell whether he is having trouble disengaging or whether he is being willful.
Over the years we have done a variety of things to help him transition, including giving five minute warnings, running with a fairly set schedule and having him sit in a chair for five minutes between activities. We also use sitting for five minutes as a way for him to collect himself when he is over stimulated or needs to get hold of his emotions.
When he was younger (3 or 4) just sitting still required enough concentration to help him center himself, but as he has grown sitting still has become habitual and no longer requires as much concentration. We had tried for a while sending him up to his room to regain control but for a variety of reasons this didn’t work very well.
Then a few weeks before J was born I decided to clean out the school closet (something that has to be done every couple of months) and found a piece of Silly Putty. “Aha”, I said to myself (or perhaps the Holy Spirit said to me), ” this is just the thing for F. Not sticky (which would cause it’s own problems) but tactile and interesting. This might help him to calm himself when he’s sitting.”
I put it in my school supply drawer and the next time I wanted him to sit, I pulled it out and gave it to him, along with a few guidelines:
We have really been pleased with the way this simple and cheap tool has helped him. He is much more aware of when he is becoming agitated and a couple of times a week will voluntarily get the Silly Putty and use it to calm himself. I usually give it to him about once a day, or more often if we are having a busy day or week and he is struggling. I hadn’t really realized he is as tactile as he is and am considering giving him something similar to use when we are doing oral work in school as he often fidgets to the point of distraction. I’m wondering if having the same thing to fidget with all the time would help with this….
Note: I did buy several other colors of Silly Putty thinking that he might like to have some variety. Nope! He likes the original colored stuff in the red egg.