Fingertip Sphere Breathing for Self Regulation & Calming
I learned this technique during one of the webinars in the Preschool Mindfulness Summit in January. It was amazing to see how well it worked with one of my patients who has Autism (and possibly OCD and Explosive Disorder). This child has a very short fuse and when he explodes it is painful for everyone including him. We had tried several different strategies to help him learn self regulation and self calming skills with little success. The issue was in that explosive moment he was too out of control to use any strategies.
During our last session he became obsessed over a particular page in a board book, insisting that he had to “see the page in the middle” and then exploding when I removed the book to prevent it from being damaged. I then closed my eyes, placed my fingertips together and slowly expanded them (like a Hoberman Sphere) as I took a deep breath in through my nose and gently pressed them back together as I blew the breath slowly out of my mouth. After about 3 breaths I heard him calming down and he asked “What you doing?”. As I continued my slow breathing process with my eyes closed, I softly said “Ms. Angela is taking a break. ________ (child’s name) yelling scared Ms. Angela. When I get scared I take deep breaths.”. Then I continued doing the fingertip breathing with my eyes closed. Within a second or two I heard him breathing, peeked and saw him imitating what I was doing. Once he was calm I gently placed a new activity in front of him. He started to re-escalate and obsess over wanting the book again so I closed my eyes and started the breathing again. He again imitated and this time calmed down and was able to maintain that state of calm for the rest of our session. I cannot express what a HUGE moment this was for him. As he took a play break after the session I talked with his mother to make sure she understood what I had done and how powerful it would be for her son to experience the ability to self regulate and calm.
It is important to note that I did not tell this child to “calm down” or to “take a deep breath”. When I calmed and centered myself and modeled this breathing technique he began to imitate what I was doing and then got to experience the power of self calming.
Moments like this are exactly why I sought out training in kids yoga and mindfulness seven years ago. When a child is totally disregulated they are not going to learn anything I had planned for that session. So I needed tools in the speechie toolbox to help my patients.
Of course I also make referrals as needed to good pediatric psychological services in our area.
I have shared several resources for “breathing”, “self regulation”, “calming”, “mindfulness” and “social emotional learning” over the years on my blog. You can find those posts easily by doing a search for those terms. I have also shared additional resources out on my OMazing Kids Facebook page. Many of those posts are saved in the photos/albums area…. so feel free to look through those as well.
This gif shows a Hoberman Sphere in action for those that may not be familiar with it:
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.