Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wilbarger Brushing Protocol

We have started a new regime with David, as a part of his occupational therapy.  We are doing the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol.  The WBP is a very specific technique of brushings using a therapeutic brush or a surgical brush, like the ones in the photo.  We brush David's arms, back, and legs then do joint compressions on his shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees.  We do this regime daily, starting when he wakes up and continuing every 90 minutes - 2 hours until he goes to bed.  I know - my first thought too was that's a whole lot of brushing.  Like, on the same schedule as nursing a baby, brushing.  It takes I would estimate less than 3 minutes from start to finish each time we do it.  On days he has a birthday party, baseball game, or something else that is unusually stimulating or exciting we will brush immediately before and immediately after the event.  

The benefits?  Oh. My. Goodness.  Seriously ya'll, we noticed a difference in his behavior almost immediately.  He has been a better listener, more calm, more obedient, more respectful, and in great control of himself.  I want to brush all of my children.  And I may or may not want to brush my husband sometimes if I could get those results. . .   The Wilbarger protocol is designed to reduce sensory defensiveness, or David's wild reactions to things when he's having too much sensory overload.  I would like to equate it to the feeling that every adult I know gets when you go to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.  That tight chest, I hate my life right now, these kids are driving me insane, my head is going to explode feeling.  Um, I would like to be brushed at that point.  

It is amazing to me that you can physically see David's reaction to the brushing.  It takes 10-15 minutes for the body to benefit from the stimuli provided by the brushing, and it lasts about 90 minutes.  When he's having a bad day, we'll do more.  The hope is that, after a period of time, we will be able to decrease our frequency of "brushing", and eventually likely eliminate it entirely but David will at that point not need it anymore.

We are so, so fortunate to have found Dana, our occupational therapist.  She had David have such a lovely relationship, and she really has been able to tap into what is most helpful for David.  We will not do the brushing at school initially, but will brush before and after.  We had a great meeting with David's new teacher, the principal, vice principal, and special education department head for our school district on Tuesday.  Chris and I are both very satisfied with the meeting, and have at this point decided not to do anything through the school.  We discussed some things that worked in his classroom last year, and his new teacher is very open to doing things in the classroom to help if David needs accommodations, as opposed to doing some sort of pull-out services.  We just really don't feel like he needs that, and want to keep things as non-intrusive for him as possible.  If we get to the point where we need a 504 or IEP, we will roll with it at that point.  However, we felt very satisfied and comfortable with the support team that he has available, and I think he's going to have a great school year.  

And all of the professionals at that meeting kept talking about how great they thought it was that we had independently sought out help for David, that he had speech therapy and OT, that I did research, and said that it sounded like I had taken a class on all of D's diagnoses.  Um, do most parents suck?  I do not feel like we've done anything above and beyond.  We have taken the steps we felt necessary to get available treatments and therapies for our child to make sure we are setting him up for success in the future.  Why is that exceptional parenting now?!  That's called being responsible parents - I would have been so embarrassed if we went to that meeting and they asked us what we had done to help D and the answer was nothing.  He is our child, not the school's child.  It is our responsibility to make sure his medical needs are addressed.  And, let's be honest here people, if we ignored the issues with David we would have been divorced a long time ago.  Parenting a child with special needs is not easy a lot of the time, and if we just ignored the things that were going on we would have been in a world of hurt.  I am so thankful that Chris and I have, thus far, always been on the same page about what we want to do for David to help him and afford him every opportunity to thrive.  We are very hopeful for this school year and excited to see everything he can do in his new, more academically challenging environment!


Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek said...

sadly, many parents do suck. They are unwilling to admit a problem, or think it's only a problem at school. So, as unfortunate as it is, you guys DID go above and beyond!!!

I have to say, I was seriously excited when I read about how well the brushing is working! Who would have thought? It is amazing! I'm very happy for you guys!

Misty said...

Wow, this is fascinating!

I'm pretty sure I need to be brushed...often. I spend nearly every waking moment with that Chuck E. Cheese feeling...that's why I talk so much shit and continue to put my foot in my mouth.