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 clinical practice."

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 case.

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)

Page 14...

"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!!



Related Resources

Check Out The Issue # 21 Edition of the Sensory Companion Newsletter Titled: The Wilbarger Protocol For Sensory Defensiveness



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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Brushing failed... 
My son is 9 & his OT's suggested the brushing protocol (a modified version since he's in school)3-4 x a day and it has seemed to backfire on us. He is …

Special education teacher/parent 
My daughter had some visual issues when she was in the fourth grade and we ended up having to take her to a vision therapist who prescribed 10 weeks of …

Associate Psychologist 
I am currently working with an adult with tactile problem who would not allow dental or medical procedures. He would not allow touches more than 30 seconds …

Occupational therapist/parent of child w/ TD/SPD 
My daughter says she doesn't like the feeling of the brush. She used to tolerate this when she was around 6 y.o. Now 8, she could benefit from the brushing …

COTA in a public school system in NJ 
I have personally had the Wilbarger training several times, most recently about 5 years ago. I am comfortable doing the brushing and joint compressions …

Hi my daughter is 3 and 1/2 years old, hypoactive and sensitive (like me) I was told about the surgical scrub brush. I started using this and a very …

Miss Lisa Webster 
Hi there, I've never heard of this technique (Wilbarger Brushing Protocol) and am intrigued to find out more. My son has high functioning autism and …

I know a teacher who wants to hand out the brushes to moms of kids on the spectrum with sensory issues. I know she is not an OT, and is fully versed on …

Brushing Worked for us! 
The Wilbarger Protocol definitely worked for our 5 year old daughter. We have used it for a year now and have no doubt that it has helped. The brushing …

Sensory Brush 
Hi,Doe's anyone know where I can get one of these brushes from in the UK? I have tried Amazon but they won't deliver it to the uk. I've not got as far …

Has anyone experienced not-so desirable side-effects from brushing? My son seems to enjoy it one day and hate it the next. And often I find that he is …

Occupational Therapist 
I am an occupational therapist trying desperately to find the most current training on the Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT). …

What a difference it made! 
My son was diagnosed with PDD with possible Autism at the age of 3. We were in Paris, France at the time and within 30 days we returned to the US and …

Translations of the Wilbarger Protocol 
Does anyone have a Creole' and Spanish translation of a home exercise program of the Wilbarger Protocol?

Excellent approach 
My son, who will soon be 4 years old, has been sensory defensive and it has been mistaken for ADHD. I am an Occupational Therapist since 1997 and knew …

Stopped responding... 
My daughter, 7, was responding well to the brushing the first week. Now, she refuses. I don't know if I should push her to continue.

DPPT-Can parents perform the therapy at home 
Hello, I recently attended an autism conference. I was introduced to the Wilbarger's Protocal. My question is since this is an intensive procedure …

I'm a layperson 
I have suffered with SPD all my life, but have only recently found out that there's a name for it, and that the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol is used to …

Has anyone heard of Wilbarger deep pressure and Proprioceptive Technique 
My daughter Haley has started receiving occupational and physical therapy this summer. She has also received speech therapy in the past and now during …

A Therapressure Brush (Wilbarger DPPT) 
I need to purchase a proprioception brush for my daughter. I can't find one anywhere! I was taught how to brush her and do joint compression, but not …

Therapressure brush for Wilbarger DPPT protocol 
I just read the SPD Companion issue #21 and checked out the new brush that is being recommended for the Wilbarger DPPT protocol. I clicked on the link …

Wilbarger Deep Pressure Protocol 
Some friends who went to an Autism Symposium said that the OT presenting said that the Wilbarger Protocol should only be done for 2 weeks and then discontinued. …

The Wilbarger Protocol 
So my 3.5 year old SPD girl, Addison when for her first OT session today. It went okay. She was showing me The Wilbarger Protocol, and Addison screamed …

Brushing protocol 
I am doing brushing protocol on my 2 1/2 year old daughter. She is speech delayed and has a vey mild sensory problem. Our OT recommended I do brushing …

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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
Hello, 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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