If you are a newcomer to the field of pediatric occupational therapy, ‘joint compressions’ may be a new term, but this therapeutic strategy can be extremely helpful. If you are a parent of a child with sensory issues or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you know that it can be difficult to help your child find effective strategies to self-soothe. In children who experience sensory issues, their brains do not process sensory information, such as sounds and textures, in the same way as you or I might. This might mean that they are highly sensitive to sensory information or are under-responsive to sensory information.
Children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) or autism may also experience difficulties with proprioception, or understanding where their bodies are in space. Children with issues with proprioception may appear to be uncoordinated or often run into other objects or people. Some children with proprioception issues may even seek additional sensory input by engaging in behaviors such as chewing on pens or pencils or running into walls.
How can joint compression helps in occupational therapy?
Children who experience proprioception and sensory issues can often benefit from techniques of self-soothing, in order to become more calm and relaxed. This is where joint compressions (also known as joint tractions) come into play. Parents, this might be a great strategy for your child!
In order to create joint compressions, you will apply pressure to the joints, particularly on the arms, from the shoulders to fingers. By doing this, you provide your child with much-need proprioceptive input. This input allows your child to become more aware of their body in space and provides postural stability. The joint compressions also help to regulate the brain and nervous system, which provides an overall sense of relaxation and decompression in children with autism or sensory issues.
You can provide joint compressions for your child, and they can also use this technique to help with self-regulation during times when they become overwhelming or overstimulated in an environment.
In addition to applying deep pressure to the joints in joint compression, there are other ways to receive the same effect. Some other methods that you can try with your child include yoga, running, or pulling a wagon filled with heavy items. The important thing is finding the technique that works best for your child, as a technique that works well for one person may not work well for the next.
Would you like to learn more about joint compressions in pediatric occupational therapy?
Contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services for children, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.