Therapists need the Alert Program® because...
- self-regulation underlies and supports all therapeutic goals.
- clients of all ages, populations, and settings benefit.
- since 1990, it has been anchored in evidence-based practice.
We help you…
Engage with your clients.
What if you could start every therapy session with your clients focused and ready to work toward their goals? By learning the Alert Program® concepts, you will know how easy it is to set up their nervous systems for success. When your clients are well regulated, and using the Alert Program® concepts, you promote optimal functioning.
The Alert Program® simplifies complex neurobiological theory to help your clients, their families, school staff, and others understand the importance of self-regulation in daily routines. Many therapists recommend our Your Best Self The Alert Program For All Online Course for exactly this purpose.
The Alert Program® materials and online course focus on simple, low-budget, self-regulation strategies, that can be adapted to work with all of your clients: infants or elderly, non-verbal or verbal, typically developing or those needing extra support, those with mental health challenges, dementia, other cognitive impairments, as well as autism, ADD, FASD, and other learning challenges. We are all self-regulators and all can benefit from the Alert Program®.
The program has been used by therapists in over 85 countries because it is fundamental to effective therapy. See your clients in a whole new light!
Symptoms you see…
- lack of focus,
- extremes in activity levels,
- challenges with activity levels, and/or
- behavioral levels.
Alert Program® teaches….
- kids, teens, & adults to self-regulate,
- how to customize sensory diets,
- complex theory to lay people,
- how to observe behavior differently,
- ways to make your job easier.
Research shows improved…
- self-regulation and attention,
- coping with sensory issues,
- ability to transition, and
- executive functioning,
- EBP and research list PDF »
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Solutions to problems you face.
Self-regulation strategies to keep you alert!
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Fun, practical games, and songs.
Books with countless, low-budget activities
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Adaptable for all ages and abilities.
Teaching self-regulation couldn’t be easier!
Can the Alert Program® help my clients?
As a therapist, you know about the importance of self-regulation. We’re proud to have the tools to support your work with all your clients (all ages, all populations, all settings).
Our Alert Program® Online Course provides everything you’ll need to know about implementing and adapting the Alert Program® for your clients. Find out why countless participants have reported that this is the best course they’ve ever taken and receive 20 American Occupational Therapy Association Approved-Provider contact hours.
The therapist-friendly Leader’s Guide book provides step-by-step activities and 50+ pages of sample games and charts, so you can teach your clients how to become as independent in self-regulation as is possible.
Whether you work in the classroom, a clinic, or home setting, we have songs, games, and books that you can use or recommend to your clients and their families. Watch how quickly your clients learn about self-regulation with our Alert Program® Materials.
What evidence supports the use of the Alert Program®?
The Alert Program® has been helping students of all ages and ability levels since 1990 and research has demonstrated its effectiveness.
Therapists appreciate that we have compiled and continue to update the 20+ pages of Alert Program® articles and research to impress parents, teachers, school administrators, and other team members by demonstrating excellence in evidence-based practice. We’ve done the work, so you don’t have to.
We’re also proud that the Alert Program® is included as a staple in textbooks used in occupational therapy programs around the world. Click here for the “Alert Program® Literature and Research” PDF.
How can I explain the Alert Program® to parents, teachers, or others?
Our complimentary one page handout provides a quick overview so all team members (including your administrators) can better support carryover to home and school. Click here to print “What’s All This Talk About Engines?” free handout.
Also, many therapists keep Introductory Booklets on hand for parents, teachers, team members, and administrators who want to learn the basics of the Alert Program®. Bulk rates are available. Click here for our Introductory Booklet.
Why the engine analogy?
The Alert Program® uses an engine analogy because many children can relate and learn quickly about self-regulation when talking about their “engine” going into high, low, or just right gears. The engine analogy is just one way, but by no means the only way, to describe how alert one feels. We search for words that have meaning to the child or adult client (we typically would not talk about engines when working with older students or adult clients). Any descriptor that conveys the person’s inner experience of self-regulation can be used, such as:
- Colors (red for high, yellow for low, green or blue for just right)
- Animals (maybe a cheetah for high, a turtle for low, and a bear for just right)
- Winnie the Pooh (Tigger for high, Eeyore for low, and Pooh for just right)
- Use the child’s special interest, especially if on the autism spectrum. (For example, if the child loves to talk about a certain movie then use characters from that movie.)
- Or adults might use the words, “high alert, low alert, and just right for _________” (fill in the blank for any activity. For example, are you in an optimal state right now while reading this webpage? If so, you could say, “I’m just right for reading.”)
But what if the individual doesn’t talk at all or the engine analogy is too abstract?
If a child, student, or adult client is non-verbal or currently uses a limited vocabulary, then the abstract concept of an engine may not be helpful, and could even be irritating as one boy exclaimed, “I don’t have an engine!” He knew he was a boy and not an engine (and wondered if we’d lost our minds). Those children who are more concrete thinkers might do better with actual photos taken when they are in high, low, or just right states of alertness. Then, instead, of using words, they can point to the photo that best indicates their level of alertness.
And for those children, students, or adult clients who are not yet capable of pointing to a photo of themselves in different alert states, then the adults in their lives can use the vocabulary (without the individual identifying their level of alertness). For example, parents might comment to each other at breakfast, “This morning when I helped John get out of bed, his engine seemed really low and groggy. So, I asked him to play some tug-of-war with a towel (heavy work to his muscles). After giggling in our tug-of-war game, his engine got into a just right gear. Then he got dressed much more quickly and cooperatively.” In this way, the parents are not using the engine vocabulary with the child but using the analogy with each other to better problem solve.
To learn more about how to be a “detective” and how to support self-regulation in homes, schools, therapy clinics, and other settings, check out our Alert Program® Online Course. To learn more about how important self-regulation is to all of us and how to become better observers and supporters of ourselves and others, check out Your Best Self Online Course. And to learn about low-budget activities to support self-regulation, even when children can’t talk about or use the engine analogy, check out the Take Five! book.
Can I use the Alert Program® with an individual who has autism?
Yes. For those children, students, or adult clients on the autism spectrum who are verbally interactive, they can choose what analogy they want to use. If a child loves dinosaurs, then raptors could be high, brontosauruses could be low, and stegosauruses could be just right. Whatever descriptors have meaning for the child can be used.
Some children and adult clients on the spectrum, who are at a more basic level of communicating and interacting, will need the adults in their lives to understand what types of self-regulation strategies will support their regulation.
For example, after a teacher learns the Alert Program® information, she may offer the child two choices when he comes in from the bus at the beginning of the school day. Upon entering the classroom, she may observe that the child’s engine is not in an optimal state for learning. She might think, “Hmmm, his engine looks high after the bus ride.” Rather than ask the child about his engine level, she would just offer a self-regulation strategy and say, “Let’s get ready for circle time. Would you like to help me carry this box of books or push the basket of blocks to our circle area?” In this way, the child gets the heavy muscle work he needs to help his engine get in a just right place for listening at circle time (but he is not talking about his engine. The adult is guiding his self-regulation choices).
You can find more heavy work and other simple, practical activities in the Take Five! book. And you can learn how to adapt the program for a variety of ages, populations, and settings in our full Alert Program® Online Course. Or you may find it helpful to learn how to support an individual with autism by learning how to set up your own nervous system for success, how to insert self-regulation strategies throughout the day, and how to be a better observer of yourself and other’s nervous system by viewing Your Best Self Online Course.
Where can I learn more about the program?
The Alert Program® has several books, songs, and games. Click here to learn more. Also, we suggest you browse the Free Resources in our footer. You’ll find articles, radio interviews, and other website links. If you would like to print our one page handout (available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish), click here.
You can take our full Alert Program® Online Course, where you can learn all you’ll need to know to easily implement the program in your setting. Or, you might want to start with our shorter Your Best Self Online Course where you’ll learn how to better observe and support yourself and others at home, at work, and in all your relationships.
How do I earn continuing education contact hours (CEUs)?
Click here for a short summary of our online courses.
In the Alert Program® Online Course, you’ll receive 20 continuing education contact hours. This course has received rave reviews from well seasoned and newer therapists, alike. All who complete the course will benefit and expand their knowledge of how to implement self-regulation strategies in their settings. Staying alert for online learning never felt so fun!
In the Your Best Self Online Course, you’ll be able to choose to receive 8 continuing education contact hours. This course is designed to help all adults understand more about their own self-regulation so that they can apply their new found knowledge to better navigate and enhance their work and personal relationships.
I’m totally new to the Alert Program®, where should I begin?
Many folks who are new to the Alert Program® like to start with our Your Best Self Online Course to get the flavor and scope of the power of self-regulation strategies. Or you may want to begin by reading some of the articles in our Blog or listening to a radio show interview in our Free Resources. Browse our products to learn more about our Alert Program® books, songs, and games. Click here to read a brief summary of our Alert Program® materials.
And here’s a quick overview to help you get started:
If the child is verbal…
and if the child understands the abstract concept of an engine (and you would like to implement the whole program), then we would suggest using the activities in the Leader’s Guide to teach the child how to:
- Identify alert levels (Stage One)
- Explore methods to change alert levels (Stage Two)
- Learn to regulate alert levels (Stage Three)
One of the fastest ways to teach about self-regulation is explained in the Test Drive! (book and digital songs). Also, the Alert Program® games, Alert: Go Fish!, Alert Bingo, and Keeping on Track Board Game can be used to reinforce the self-regulation concepts. Our games correlate with the three stages of the Leader’s Guide.
If the child is not yet verbal…
and if the child will not understand the abstract concept of an engine, then we’d suggest the Take Five! book, that offers lots of practical, low-budget activities that support self-regulation. This is a great place to start, especially for those who will not be teaching the engine analogy but want self-regulation activities for home and school.
The Alert Program® Digital Songs are great for children who are not yet using words to communicate. These songs do not have the word “engine” in them but they are coded to indicate which songs are calming and which ones are alerting. These are effective songs to use with all types learning styles (abstract or concrete thinkers) since the music will help children to self-regulate whether or not they can identify their own levels of alertness.
We are happy to support you to find ways to help your clients. You may have more questions and we’ve got answers! Click here to learn more about the Alert Program®.