Bridget Dujardin is the founder and owner of Boston Sensory Solutions, a clinic that specializes in pediatric occupational therapy (OT). When Bridget first learned about Mightier through Facebook, she thought it would be a great tool to use with her daughter, who has a sensory processing disorder that impacts her emotional regulation. Eventually, Bridget started using Mightier in her OT practice.
Q: What sorts of issues are patients struggling with when they come to your office?
Bridget: At my clinic, we work with lots of families whose kids have challenges with self-regulation and emotional control. Lots of kids come without a diagnosis. As I see it, it doesn’t matter what your diagnosis is in occupational therapy. Our job as OTs is to help people build more independence and participation in what’s important in their lives. So, it doesn’t matter to me what their diagnosis is—it matters to me how they’re functioning is. And if they have challenges that prevent them from fully engaging in their roles as a son, daughter, student, friend, brother, sister, or playmate—that’s where we can come in and help them participate better in those roles and do the activities associated with those roles to their full potential.
Q: How has Mightier enhanced the work you do with your patients?
Bridget: People often come to us when their kids are already doing talk therapy or the kids won’t engage with talk therapy. These kids will walk into my clinic and say, “I don’t like to talk. I’m not talking to you.” My response is, “That’s great because I don’t like to talk either. We’re here to play!” That’s where Mightier comes in. It’s been a really nice tool to help kids see how their heart rate and body state relate to their emotions. It’s made it really concrete. I’m just excited about the possibility of kids getting to build this skill while doing something they really enjoy. It’s hard to get kids—especially preteen boys who struggle with impulsivity and self-regulation—to talk about their feelings and choices. Mightier helps them build insight into their own mindfulness and also helps give us a way to address that skill without having to talk about it.
Q: How do the skills kids learn through Mightier transfer to real-world situations?
Bridget: My patients are kids who have anxiety, who have meltdowns, who have a lot of impulsivity, who go really fast from playful and calm to flipping out. Mightier can help them because the game frustrates and challenges them through play, through an activity they want to do. They have to figure out how to get themselves out of the “red zone” and into the game. And if they can figure out how to do that, the research on Mightier shows, and my anecdotal experience shows, then they can figure out how to do that in real life, too.
Q: Can you give us an example of a patient who really benefited from using Mightier?
Bridget: There’s an older boy I’ve worked with for a couple years. When I started working with him, he would say to me, “I can’t help it—I’m just excited a lot. I just lose control a lot. I blurt things out that I know I shouldn’t say.” I would encourage him to use certain techniques to manage his “zone,” but he was dealing with a learned helplessness. When I gave him Mightier and put the heart rate monitor on him, he could actually see that when he did the deep breathing, when he took a break from what was frustrating him, the gauge went down. It went from the red to the blue. That was a really insightful moment for him, seeing that gauge go down from the red zone to the blue zone when he was engaging in the sensory inputs and self-soothing activities I wanted him to do. He couldn’t argue with it.
Q: How do parents typically respond when you suggest their child try Mightier?
Bridget: There’s a bit of hesitation about having one more screen they’re going to have to limit. Another question they have is, “Does it really work?” When I get that question, I point to the published research on Mightier. In the OT world, there’s a lot of emphasis on providing evidence-based interventions. Having the research on Mightier around decreased behavioral outbursts, decreased parent stress, and increased emotional regulation further supports my using it in the clinic and convinces families that it’s a viable option.