How does your engine run?

The Alert Program for Self-Regulation


Believe Therapies may be using this technique to help children learn how to self-regulate their activity level. The Alert Program is appropriate for people of any age; however, children who are functioning at a level of 8 years old or older can become independent with this program. It would not be expected that a child under 8 years of age would have the self-knowledge to regulate his/her system without adult supervision or cues. This blog is designed to help the parents/teachers/family understand the program and cue their child appropriately until the child is able to self-regulate his/her activity level.

Self-regulation is the ability to attain, maintain and change the amount of alertness appropriate to a task or situation. The therapist may refer to the child’s engine level: low, high or just right. To help children understand these concepts, the therapist will find an analogy that is meaningful to the child. An example would be using the characters from Winnie-the-Pooh. Eeyore has a low engine level. Tigger has a high engine level and Winnie-the-Pooh’s engine level is just right. Pictures or references to the characters can be the verbal or visual cues the child needs to self-regulate.

There are three main stages to the Alert Program:

Stage 1: Identify Engine Speeds

  • Children become familiar with the words: low, high and just right. It is important to be consistent with these words. Consistency needs to be maintained from child to therapist to caregiver and community, such as teachers. Older children (8 years+) and adults can label their own “engine words.”

  • Children develop awareness of the feel of their own engine speeds using the words/pictures as guidelines.

  • Children learn to identify and label the levels for themselves in therapy.

  • Children learn to identify and label the levels outside of therapy.

Stage 2: Experiment with Methods to Change Engine Speeds

  • Therapist will introduce sensorimotor activities to change the engine speed.

  • Therapist will identify sensorimotor preferences and hypersensitivies (if there are any.)

  • Children will work with the therapist to begin choosing strategies to self-regulate.

Stage 3: Regulation (8 years old and older)

  • Children begin independently choosing sensorimotor strategies in therapy.

  • Children will use strategies independently, outside of therapy.

  • Children learn to change their engine speed independently.

People don’t need to complete the entire program to benefit from the program. The program also gives parents and teachers a different vocabulary to identify and label how a child’s engine is running to avoid using words that may have a negative connotation such as “hyper” or “out of control.”

Goals of the Alert Program

  • To assist the parent and child in identifying the child’s activity level and provide a method that will allow for meaningful identification and communication.

  • To provide a method of carry-over from the therapy session, to home and school or community.

  • To help the child to keep his/her activity level in the “just right” range.

  • Once the child is able to self-regulate his/her activity level, this will increase the child’s self-esteem, attention to task and task completion. (Just to name a few!)

Each therapist at Believe Therapies will work with each child individually to accomplish these steps. If you have any questions about this, please speak with your therapist or place a question in the comment box at the clinic for future blogs and tweets!

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Huntsville Clinic

100 Medical Center Parkway Suite 100

Huntsville, Texas 77340

Phone: 936-293-8800

Fax: 936-715-3721

Email: frontoffice@believetherapies.com

Bryan Clinic

2701 East 29th Street

Bryan, Texas 77802

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