The SaintA Treatment Foster Care (TFC) program deals with many children who have difficulties regulating their emotions and behaviors, which can impact many areas in their lives. SaintA recognized this as a common difficulty for these children, and to assist them, and their foster parents, the TFC program created sensory trainings in early 2013.
The sensory trainings are presented by SaintA’s occupational therapist, Ron Klemp, with assistance of the TFC staff. The trainings are held every few months and are interactive sessions between the foster parents and the foster child(ren) placed in their home. In these trainings the foster parents participate with the child in rhythmic and repetitive activities, which are designed to help decrease their often high levels of alertness frequently caused by the trauma they have experienced. These heightened levels of arousal can result in struggles with focus, following directions, tantrums, difficulties falling asleep, etc. Along with the trainings being a useful tool to help a child, they are also a lot of fun and a great way to meet other foster parents and TFC staff.
At our most recent sensory training, a number of foster parents came with both their biological and foster children. This specific training offered four different sensory activities, including origami, a balloon game, learning a magic trick and a coloring activity. I had the opportunity to observe how much fun each child had participating in each activity, and I was impressed how the most hyperactive of the children were able to sit down and participate in the coloring activity with only minor redirection.
I also had the pleasure of viewing first-hand how these activities facilitated an opportunity for a foster parent who had recently taken placement of two small boys to continue building a relationship in a very natural and non-threatening way. The training was also a way for the foster parents to connect with each other and begin to build additional supports among themselves, including offering each other advice.
When leaving the training, the foster parents and children had smiles on their faces and you could hear murmurs of how much they enjoyed the training and activities. And if the parents and children had fun, they’ll probably practice these activities regularly, which fulfills our goal and goes a long way toward promoting healing.
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