A child with autism can find it tough to manage their behavior. Even a high-functioning child may be subject to meltdowns in situations that would not be particularly challenging to a non-autistic sibling. If the autism symptoms are more severe, a child can get extremely upset on a more or less daily basis. It’s often difficult to help an autistic child stay calm, but some techniques can be successful. First of all, it’s important to understand what autistic children have in common:
- Difficulty with understanding social conventions and norms.
- Struggle with using or following spoken language.
- Trouble with using or comprehending non-verbal communication.
- Unawareness of the likely reactions of others to certain behaviors.
- Sensory challenges that can get in the way of behaving positively.
- Lack of social motivation (i.e., the desire for social acceptance).
How to Teach Your Autistic Child to Stay Calm
One of your jobs as a parent is to help your autistic child stay calm. To do so, you need to learn some techniques. These strategies are certainly not guaranteed to be one hundred percent successful all the time, but they can make a significant positive difference. Many of these approaches are taken from sensory integration therapy, which helps people with sensory dysfunction to better manage challenging situations. They include the following:
- Offering an escape hatch. Give your child options if they are getting overwhelmed, and anxiety or frustration is rising. Could they go outside or retreat to their bedroom and watch a favorite video? Just knowing that there’s an option can sometimes make a big difference.
- Providing sensory toys that can help lower anxiety. There are sensory toys you can buy. Simple suggestions are soft squeezy balls or plasticine.
- Setting up an indoor or outdoor trampoline and/or swing. These contraptions are often great ways to providing an autistic kid with the sensory input needed for self-regulation. Small indoor versions of these types of apparatus are available.
- Using a weighted blanket and/or vest. For some children with autism, these weighted items help to provide a feeling of security. They make it easier to manage sensory assaults associated with community and school experiences. If you don’t have any such heavy items (or even if you do), you can use a blanket to roll your child up in like a fun “burrito.”
- Buying pencils and pens with chewy tops. For some autistic children, being allowed to chew something can have a calming effect.
- Teaching simple strategies for staying calm. Options include counting slowly to ten, walking away, or deep breathing.
- Learning and teaching meditation techniques. Every autistic child will not be able to learn and fully use these methods, but mindfulness and related techniques can help many.
- Making sure your child gets sufficient physical exercise. A child with autism may spend their afterschool time in therapy. While this is important, your autistic kid also needs time to run around, play, and be active.
- Adding a family pet. Relating to a pet has been shown to help an autistic child stay calm. Some autistic children have emotional support or service animals whose main job is to help them manage their feelings.
A Word From Caring Healthcare in Columbia, SC
It’s challenging to parent a child with autism, but you can work toward helping your autistic child stay calm. By following some of these tips, you will make life easier and pleasanter for yourself, your child, and others in your life. And, if you live in our area and need help with your special needs child, don’t hesitate to talk to us.