The Alert Program for Self-Regulation
How Does Your Engine Run? ”®
The Alert ProgramTM for Self-Regulation
“How does your engine run?” is the question occupational therapists, Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger, delight in helping children to answer.
Through the Alert Program, children learn what to do if their engines are running on high when they need to sit down and concentrate on homework. Teachers learn what they can do between subjects to support students in “waking up their engines and their minds” for better focus.
Parents learn what they can do to keep their youngsters in an optimal alert state to get dressed in the morning, complete homework after school, or travel in the car to run errands in the evening. Children and adults learn that simple changes in daily routine, such as marching to music before school, packing crunchy food in a lunch box, or jumping on a trampoline after school, may be all that is needed to maximize functioning and keeping engines running “just right.”
“The Alert Program is a simple, yet successful framework for supporting children (typically developing and as well as those with special needs) to self-regulate and function optimally at home and school,” state co-founders Mary Sue and Sherry.
The Alert Program grew out of these occupational therapists’ experience working in school, home, and clinic settings. Initially in 1987, Mary Sue was treated a young girl for sensory processing difficulties. This student entered the therapy session appearing lethargic (low level of alertness), but after ten minutes of active play using sensory integration techniques, she became alert and enthusiastic (optimal state of alertness).
Mary Sue explained to the child, “If your body is like a car engine, sometimes it runs on low, sometimes it runs on high, and sometimes it runs just right.” The engine vocabulary and feedback from Mary Sue helped this child learn to define and label how her engine was running. If the child’s engine went up into high gear, Mary Sue would comment in a neutral tone of voice, “Oh, looks like your engine is in high right now.
Let’s play tug of war and see if the heavy work helps your engine get back to a just right level.” With guidance, the student began learning which sensorimotor strategies worked to change her engine’s level. Eventually, she could learn, play, or rest using the best alert state for each task. The seed of the Alert Program was planted!
Since 1987, there are a variety of ways children and their adults have learned how to change engine levels. Self-regulation strategies and the engine analogy can be taught easily to children as outlined in the Alert Program’s books and CD’s. A brief overview of the program is available by reading the Alert Program’s Introductory Booklet.
A comprehensive step-by-step approach is detailed in the Leader’s Guide. The book, Take Five!, is chock full of low-budget activities that incorporated in homes and schools. The Alert Program CD includes songs that are coded so parents, teachers, and therapists can help children alert or calm down. And the fastest way to teach the engine concepts to children is using the Test Drive book and CD. Listen to a Test Drive song just once and everyone will be humming and tapping their toes to the catchy words and rhymes, perhaps not even knowing they are learning how to stay alert at home or school!
Learn more about the Alert Program by visiting TherapyWorks’ website at www.AlertProgram.com or attending an Alert Program training. Alert Program trainings are regularly offered across the United States and internationally, hopefully, soon in a city near you. In these workshops, the speakers unique teaching styles keep “engines” energized while learning how to implement the program at home, in school, or in clinics. Join the group of parents, teachers, and therapists who are enhancing children’s lives using the Alert Program and learn why so many say, “this is the best workshop I’ve ever attended.”
Contact TherapyWorks, Inc at 4901 Butte Place, NW Albuquerque, NM 87120 or call toll-free at 877-897-3478.
More Information www.AlertProgram.com
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