Preston Porter is a smiley, active and enthusiastic 8-year-old. But sometimes, because of his ADHD, autism tendencies and sensory issues, he has a difficult time controlling his hyperactivity.
More than a year ago, Preston participated in occupational therapy (OT) at Tri Rehab Services in Wadena to help him regain control, and he recently came back for another round. This time around, the OTs had a new device in their arsenal of treatments.
It’s called a steamroller. It uses soft but firm rollers with adjustable tension bands to put deep pressure on children as they crawl through the device. This produces a calming effect and allows children to gain control of their motor activity and achieve a more accurate sense of touch. It also promotes shoulder strengthening and stability as the children pull themselves through the machine.
“He really, really enjoys it,” said Preston’s mother, Karen. “He thinks it’s the coolest thing in the world.”
“Preston loves the steamroller,” confirmed Lora Foust, Preston’s occupational therapist. “The hardest part for him is slowing down enough to get the full benefit. One of his goals is to stick with one activity for at least five minutes. He can get to four with the steamroller. We hope to get him up to 10 minutes, as needed for focusing in school or to receive instructions at home.”
Children revel in the challenge of pulling themselves through the rollers while being flattened by it. They can also hang out in the steamroller while working on other activities such as reading a book or completing a puzzle. Sitting in the steamroller during these activities helps to focus their attention and calm them down.
Preston excitedly looks forward to his OT appointments each week and knows exactly what to do when Lora pulls out the steamroller. Karen also noted that Preston’s school in Sebeka recently added its own steamroller to its sensory room, giving Preston even more opportunity for progress.
Now that Preston has been working in OT and with the steamroller for a number of weeks, his improvement is evident.
“Preston’s mother reports that the teacher at summer school states that when Preston has OT before going to school, he does much better in school,” Lora said. “He went through it 10 times at the onset of the session, then was able to sit down to a fine motor activity for 17 minutes!”
Karen believes there is a lot of misconception out there about children who have ADHD, autism spectrum disorder or sensory issues. If children do suffer from these issues, she said that they should get them checked out and try treatment such as occupational therapy.
“I never thought something like this would help my son. Before OT, he had no control,” Karen said. “He learned how to control his impulses and hyperness. He learned to calm himself down. It has made a world of difference.”
The steamroller was funded by a Moen Brothers grant through the Tri-County Health Care Foundation.
The Moen Brothers grant assists area youth throughout the year. It is used for equipment or educational programs that specifically benefit youth in the Tri-County Health Care service area with physical or cognitive impairments. For more information about this grant or the Foundation, please contact Ryan Damlo at 218-632-8148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.