Yesterday at Molly’s weekly occupational therapy session we were introduced to a new technique called the Willbarger Approach (sometimes referred to as the Willbarger Protocol). Commonly known as a “brushing” technique, from what I’ve learned so far, it’s much more than brushing. The key to the technique is actually pressure touch and is commonly used in helping with sensory defensiveness. (It’s okay…I’m still learning all these words, too.)
With the help of this bristled brush pictured above, therapists suggest that using a “brushing” movement on a child’s arms, legs and back can acclimate their sensory development. The palms of the hands and the soles of the feet are also included in this technique. The objective is to apply deep pressure smoothly and evenly with firm brush strokes throughout the body in a horizontal motion from top to bottom.
When done correctly, the brushing shouldn’t feel like brushing, but pressure with a flush of tactile sensations. At the end of each “brushing” session, Molly’s therapist advised us to compress the joints. It sounds a little scary, but really it’s pretty simple. Just a few quick presses on the shoulders, elbows and wrists and then the hips, knees and ankles.
Molly’s therapist has suggested that we use this technique every two hours for the next two weeks with only about three to five minutes at a time. She admitted to us that it was a lofty goal, but to try our best to stick to this schedule. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. I’m hoping to do a video soon to show you the technique too!
Are you a special needs parent that is familiar with this technique? Do you use it with your own child? If so, I’d love for you to share your thoughts.
**I’m not an expert on this topic…at all. I’m curious to learn more about it as we continue our journey with Molly and wanted to share what I’ve learned with you. **