Keeping Balanced: Promoting Health and Wellness in the Gifted/2E Child

This topic is close to my heart, because it is something we deal with in this house everyday. As I have talked about before, both my kids have LDs. My son has SPD and ideopathic toe walking (plus another unknown disability we’re going through the wringer to get diagnosed). My daughter has anxiety disorder – she gets stressed and then is unable to feel pain – which causes her to be a sensory seeker – she likes throwing herself onto the floor for the bump. I cried the first time she complained about a minor injury. Because it was a big deal – it meant that she was able to feel it, and therapy was working.

So today I’m going to talk about how we incorporate strategies into our day to keep everyone on an even keel. Some of these are for the disabilities, some for the OEs. They all help.

Beanbags give the feeling of being enclosed, and can have a calming effect on a sensory system – deep pressure can calm my little ones when they get over-excited and can’t cope anymore. It is often the only thing that works.

Hugs – and reading stories in bear hugs.

Big hugs for J really help too  – though the best effect is when we can distract her as well – sitting down and giving her a bear hug while reading a book also works wonders.

Animal walks.

We do a selection of OT-inspired animal walks every morning before C’s maths lessons. The different physical movements (penguin walk, crab walk, bear crawl, frog jump etc.), see to calm him down, allowing him to concentrate on his mathematics for the next hour.

Stretches and routine.
Every evening, before C goes into his night casts (stretching his Achilles tendon overnight), everyone does leg stretches – even little J, who has started to join in with the counting as well. It’s one of the routines in our evening that helps mark the transition between awake and asleep time.

Jumping on the bed
When the kids energy levels get too high, particularly in bad weather where escaping outside isn’t always an option, I let the kids treat our bed like a trampoline. It helps to get the wiggles and giggles out of their system.

Nothing calms my two down as much as going on a swing. It’s a guaranteed way to calm down their sensory overload.

Bilibo and spinning
At home, we don’t have access to a swing  but we do have a bilibo. This toy is a great way to get a little bit of the swing effect – and it can be used to do spinning too, which the kids love.

Chew toys
C has a tendency to chew things – his shirt, toys, pens and pencils. And generally, we find little trails of splinters all over the house. I have worked through a large variety of chew toy options – but inevitably anything I pick as a toy fit for destruction is deigned to be ‘not yummy enough’. We’ve had some minor success with fake metal keys, though I’m not sure if it’s particularly good for his teeth.

This is one I would call a work in progress. If anyone has some good recommendations for durable chewing things, please leave a comment!

Breathing exercises
When everything else fails, and we don’t have access to calming equipment, a simple breathing exercise, done together and being mindful of our own breathing seems to do the trick.

Obstacle courses
To help with some of his executive functioning problems, we’ve worked on C designing and creating obstacle courses around the house, making sure it has a mix of running, walking, balancing, climbing and crawling.

Using a sensory brush to calm down J is not popular – this is one that has been a bust in our house, unfortunately. When she can get over the initial idea of ‘brushing’, it does occasionally help. Though I haven’t yet found a good way to help her get over her dislike of hair and teeth brushing. And clipping finger and toe nails is like fighting a hydra.

Regular Exercise

Getting out of the house, running around a park, or even just around the block is something that helps both kids – and myself – keep more emotionally balanced. When bad weather sets in, this might morph into running games around the house – or ’roundies’ as J has christened the proceedings.

So, what has worked, or not worked in your house when dealing with 2e and OE issues?

Terminology Notes:
2e – Twice exceptional, gifted plus learning/physical/mental disability.
OE – Overexcitabilities, specifically Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities.

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum’s “Promoting Health and Wellness in the Gifted/2E Child blog hop. Check out the other blog hop participants!

11 Replies to “Keeping Balanced: Promoting Health and Wellness in the Gifted/2E Child”

  1. We have a sensory tent (has a bean bag chair in it, as well as will have a weighted blanket in it), and a trampoline in Mad Natter's room – it gives him the outlets he needs, even on winter days, while still not being a big deal to maintain. It's been a blessing!

  2. Thank you for sharing some of your strategies for dealing with the sensitivities and OEs – the bean bags, stretches, swinging and spinning, the animal walks and breathing exercises!

  3. I think that's just a link to the manufacturer. It is then usually distributed through smaller companies. I bought mine from a NZ company. If you're in the US, Amazon do sell it. But you can probably find it cheaper from a local distributor. Also a lot of stores that specialize in sensory equipment also sell them.

  4. We use a lot of these strategies too, and it makes such a difference, especially the bear hugs and the trampoline! The obstacle course is a fantastic idea that we might have to copy! Also, what Susanne said. 🙂

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