Wilbarger Brushing--behavior during the first few days? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-20-2009, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone, I have some questions about how Wilbarger brushing affects kids when it's first started.

First some background. My son is 5 years old. He was recently diagnosed with SPD. He goes to OT once a week for an hour. We have the beginnings of a sensory diet in place, and I'm seeing tiny bits of progress.

This past Tuesday, we began doing the brushing. It's only been 3.5 days, but man, it is affecting him something fierce. He is out of control. Sometimes after the brushing he is super calm and happy. Half of yesterday was like that. Other times though, he is in quite a bad state. Almost all day today he has been yelling, angry, sad, hurting his sister, hurting me, saying hurtful things, and just generally feeling lousy. In the middle of a meltdown, he might stop and act like he's happy for a few minutes, then resume yelling. I just brushed him, and for the moment his is calm and happy. I know the storm will start again soon.

Can anyone tell me what to expect as the days go by? Or have any suggestions for how to deal with the behavior in the moment? I try for the gentle discipline, and I certainly don't want to be harsh when I know he is probably doing his best. At the same time, I can hardly see straight when he kicks his baby sister and then laughs about it, and won't stop yelling when I try to talk with him about it.


Thank you for reading,
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#2 of 6 Old 02-20-2009, 09:24 PM
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We just started brushing 2 days ago, so I'm also interested in what others have to say. DS1 (diagnosed on Tuesday with SPD) is really calm during the brushing and for a few minutes after, they goes SUPER hyper...
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#3 of 6 Old 02-20-2009, 11:22 PM
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Brushing made a huge difference for my son! But it did stop working quite as well after a few months and I needed to make sure and include lots of other parts of the sensory diet. When he is really out of control I hold him down with a big squishy pillow to protect myself. Then I pull one limb out at a time and start brushing. He calms down by the end and just crys a few minutes and is done.
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#4 of 6 Old 02-20-2009, 11:30 PM
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Were you taught to do it by the OT? Are you sure you are doing it right and using the joint compressions, etc.?

I know brushing is for some kids an absolute miracle, but with two trials we decided it really didn't work for our child. It made him wound up and he had difficulty sleeping. That said, he never was particularly tactile sensitive so it may just be that he's not the kid it was designed for.
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#5 of 6 Old 02-20-2009, 11:36 PM
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Last year, when my dd was 5, we did the brushing protocol with her. The behavior changes were quick and obvious. She was a nightmare! Acting out, acting obnoxious, increase in tantrums. Clearly it was having an effect on her, but not a welcome one.

She liked the brushing, asked for it. Immediately after being brushed, she would feel good and be calmer. But, overall her behavior was altered for the worse.

Her OT said that some kids have that effect. It means that the brushing is doing something, even if it's not what we want to see. We stuck it out for the whole time, then stopped, except occasionally using brushing as a part of her diet, but not the protocol. It did seem to have a lasting effect, though. Lots of her behaviors related to her spd just vanished, and she did have some significant leaps in her learning.

Dd is sensory seeking, so this might have something to do with it. I've heard that brushing has less predictable results with sensory seeking kids. Based on my experiences, though, I would do it again if necessary. The results were worth the torture. The behaviors did ebb and flow, but they didn't go away the whole time. We stopped brushing regularly, and within days, she was back to her sweet self again.
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#6 of 6 Old 02-21-2009, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
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This is all so very interesting. Thank you all for your replies.

I was taught to do the brushing by the OT, and I do joint compressions as well. He had me do it in front of him, and said I was doing it just fine. But now that we're at home, I have wondered if I am doing it slightly wrong. Like brushing too fast, or doing the joint compressions too light. ? Next tuesday I will ask him to watch me do it again just to be sure.

I called him last night, and he said that it sounds like the brushing is too overstimulating to him. He said to try doing it just first thing in the morning, and then thereafter if he starts to have a big meltdown. So that's what we will try today.

I hope stopping the 2 hour schedule doesn't make it worse.

Thanks everyone,
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