The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol:
Who Can Do It?
Are you confused about the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol and who can do it...
OT's, parents, other care givers? Whose allowed? What the protocol says? One OT
asked on our help line to clarify this. Well, here's the answer!
In the book: "Sensory Defensiveness in Children Aged 2-12, An
Intervention Guide for Parents and Other Caretakers" By Patricia Wilbarger, MEd,
OTR, FAOTA and Julia Leigh Wilbarger, MS, OTR, published by Avanti Educational
Programs, copyright 1991,
On page 2, they state...
Purpose of the Guide:
This guide presents a description of sensory defensiveness and an overview of
its treatment. This booklet is designed to be used with the guidance of an
occupational or physical therapist who has gained specialization in treating
sensory defensiveness in children aged 2-12, through continuing education and
For Parents: excerpt..."It is hoped that this guide will provide basic
information parents need to understand the diagnosis and treatment of sensory
defensiveness in their child between the ages of 2-12. It will answer some of
the questions most frequently asked about sensory defensiveness and give some
examples of treatment strategies."
For Other Family Members: excerpt... "Understanding the nature of
sensory defensiveness will help families develop appropriate relationships and
free family members to assist in child's treatment."
For Other Caretakers: excerpt..." Foster families, baby-sitters,
teachers, and others who have contact with the child with sensory defensiveness
need to have a clear understanding of the nature of this problem. .... The
intervention techniques recommended here are much more effective if everyone is
able to help."
For Professionals: Occupational Therapists, physical therapists,
speech therapists and other health professionals who have specialized in
treating sensory defensiveness need to communicate effectively and quickly with
the caretakers of the children they diagnose. This guide is structured as a way
to share consistent information (on pressure brushing and joint compressions)
while attending to the individual differences that are so important in each
Page 7... Intervention Approaches (con't)
....excerpt... "We have found that sensory defensiveness can be much more
quickly and efficiently treated by using an intensive approach. This intensive
approach relies heavily on the caretaker's participation in the treatment
process. It appears also that by treating the touch system we can influence
other sensory systems as well. Our treatment approach now includes applying
rapid and firm pressure touch to the arms, hands, back, legs and feet with a non
scratching brush with many bristles. The only brushes we have found to be
effective so far are a specific plastic surgical scrub brush. This is followed
by gentle joint compressions to the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, ankles and
sometimes fingers and feet. This should be demonstrated for you by a
knowledgeable therapist. Never brush the stomach. The head, neck and chest
should also be avoided.
The brushing and joint compression routines are best started on a weekend to
get the most consistency. It is a good idea to merge the technique with family
routine, i.e. when the child wakes up, goes to bed, bath times, and especially
transition times. If the child goes to school and it is impossible for school
staff to carry out the program, do the technique right before and after school.
Older children can be taught to do it to themselves."
Page 11... Individual Treatment Plan Form
1. Brush firmly with a non-scratching pressure brush on the arms, legs and
back as demonstrated by your consulting therapist. Use joint compressions 5-10
times on major joints as demonstrated by your consulting therapist (neck,
shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and sometimes fingers and feet) Repeat
___ times per day or every ___ hours.
(description of and instructions for brushing and joint compressions
included on this page in the guide)
"Loan this manual, and other materials about sensory defensiveness to
relatives, significant family friends, teachers and other professionals working
with your child."
Hopefully this answers your question. The bottom line... other people, can
and should be taught by an OT. But, the child's reactions must be closely
monitored by the OT.
Thanks to Michelle Morris for looking up and sharing this information with
us! And, of course to the Wilbarger's for the best solution to
tactile defensiveness anyone has yet to come up with!!
Check Out The Issue # 21 Edition of the
Sensory Companion Newsletter Titled:
The Wilbarger Protocol For Sensory Defensiveness
Do You Have Any Thoughts About The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol?
If you have any experience, thoughts, ideas or comments about the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol, feel free to share it with the readers of Sensory-Processing-Disorder.com!
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Occupational therapist Not rated yet
I work in a public school and started the brushing protocol on a child with autism. A week later the child had what the parents called a stomach virus …
Occupational Therapist Not rated yet
I am wondering if doing the Wilbarger protocol is appropriate for a 1 1/2 year old?
COTA/L Not rated yet
I would like to inquire if there is a Step by step simple (layman's terms) handout for caregivers that have been trained to provide DPPT, to refer to. …
Brushing as a reinforcer Not rated yet
Should brushing be a motivator that the student chooses to work for even though he is on an every two hour protocol as is?
Occupational Therapist Not rated yet
I have been trained in the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol years ago, but I cannot find a new updated course to take to make sure I am still doing the right …
It Helped Our Son Not rated yet
My now 5 year old son responded well to the Brushing Protocol. We were taught how to do it by his OT, when he was 3 years old. It helped him seem more …
Infant Oil Massage Not rated yet
Where we come from (Asia) babies a couple of days old (just as their umbilical cord dries up) are massaged very thoroughly and vigorously with warm olive …
Burpee's method of buzzing and brushing Not rated yet
I saw Burpee's method of buzzing and brushing, twice on your site and have never heard of it. Where can I get additional information?
I use the wilbarger brushing protocol Not rated yet
I use this for my daughter and it works really good with her. I also use the foot protocol. That is for toe walkers or kids who are learning to walk. …
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