Adapted From: “The Alert Program for Self-Regulation” by Williams & Shellenberger
Have you heard children talking about their “engines” going too fast (hyper) or too slow (lethargic) or “just right” (attentive and focused)? If you haven’t yet, you probably will soon. This terminology is adapted from “How Does Your Engine Run? The Alert Program for Self-Regulation” developed by two internationally known occupational therapists, Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger. The Alert Program assists children who have learning disabilities and attention problems (as well as typical children) to understand the basic theory of sensory integration related to their own alertness levels or arousal states. Through the program, children learn a repertoire of strategies that enhance their abilities to learn, interact with others, and work or play. Children not only learn to monitor their level of alertness, but improve in self-esteem, self-confidence and self-control.
This program provides a way for parents, teachers, and therapists to promote awareness of how individuals regulate their alertness levels and encourages the use of sensory-motor strategies. The program provides an easily understood way for young children and older students to monitor the signals that indicate an internal level of readiness to work, play, listen, attend and participate in the activities of life. By using the engine terminology to teach self-regulation (changing how alert we feel), the program helps children learn what to do if they are in a non-optimal state of alertness. It teaches children that there are various ways to change how alert they feel by using sensory-motor strategies (including movement, touch, visual input, auditory input, etc).