Calming Activities To Prevent Autism Meltdowns In Class
When students with autism are feeling overwhelmed, the intense response that they feel may cause them to lose control of their emotions. This is called an autism meltdown and is different from when students without autism act out in class. While the best strategy for autism meltdowns is to seek help from a school specialist, these calm down activities can help to de-escalate stressful situations.
How To Use An Autism Meltdown Kit
A meltdown kit or a calm down kit is a customized set of objects that help prevent or de-escalate a childs meltdown.
To create your own meltdown kit, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
What kind of toys/activities does my child like to do?Can this item help stop or lessen a meltdown?Does this item have the texture/shape/color my child likes?
Based on the answers to your questions, here are some items that can be included in your childs kit:
- Fidget toys
- Sensory objects
- Musical instrument
Note that giving this kit to your child is ideal for preventing a meltdown. It might not work if the child is already in the middle of a meltdown.
Theres No Need To Tag Us In Every Facebook Article About Autism
Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum are research junkies, and do their best to stay up-to-date with each and every advancement in the autism community. Certainly, they know more than the average person. As one parent put it, Theres literally no Facebook article we havent seen. So, before you share it and tag us because were that friend with the child with autism, take that into account.
Meltdown Vs Temper Tantrum
Although they may look similar, meltdowns are different from temper tantrums. A temper tantrum is usually a childs method for getting what he/she wants. A meltdown, however, has no purpose and is beyond a childs control.
To be more specific, a temper tantrum happens when a child is:
- Frustrated with not getting what he/she wants
- Not able to do what he/she wants
- Not able to properly communicate
A child might stop a tantrum after the following responses:
- Being comforted by a parent or caregiver
- Being given what he/she wants
- Being ignored and giving up on his/her own
Youngsters who throw temper tantrums are aware and in control of their actions and can adjust the level of their tantrum based on the response they get from a parent or adult. Here we can use behavioral strategies to manage tantrums.
Meltdowns have entirely different causes. Because they are triggered by sensory overload, a child on the spectrum having a meltdown can have a few defining characteristics.
Autistic meltdown symptoms may:
- Start with pre-meltdown signs called rumblings which can be verbal or physical behaviors that signal an imminent meltdown
- Be preceded with stimming
- Be caused by overstimulation or an undesirable sensory input
- Not be limited to young children and can also happen to teens and adults
- Happen with or without an audience
- Last longer than tantrums
Once you can tell the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, then you can apply the right strategies to deal with the situation.
How To Handle A Meltdown In Public
This can happen to anyone. Parents and caregivers could be low on patience while also hurting for their struggling child.
Remember that autistic children do not have meltdowns and cry or flail just to get at you.They cry because they need to release tension from their bodies in some way. They are overwhelmed with emotions or sensory stimulations.
There are some ways to effectively support your child when they are having a meltdown in public. Here are some of them.
Equip them with coping skills: Meltdowns cant be helped at that very moment. But afterwards, you can teach your child how to regulate their emotions. Try relaxing activities like going for walks. These calming activities will help them calm down even before the meltdown happens.
Feeling safe and loved: Trying to talk a child down from having a meltdown is not a great strategy when it comes to calm an autistic child. Be there for them. Let them know that they are safe at that moment. Stay close as much as their comfort allows. Dont leave them alone to be out of a meltdown and find no one in the room. This could send a message that they dont deserve to be around the people they love when it gets tough.
Empathy is key: Listen and understand their situation. Tell them expressing emotions is okay, and sometimes it can get overwhelming. If your child with autism can feel like they are being heard, they will feel that their experience is validated. Try to give them tools to express themselves in a safe way.
You May Like: What Kind Of Autism Does Symmetra Have
Set A Safe Place For Your Child In Your Home Where They Can Calm Down
This could be the childs bedroom or a playroom. Make sure the designated safe area is free of things that could break or otherwise harm someone if thrown or knocked over. You can set the mood of this safe place and tailor it to whatever your child finds soothing.
Try creating a more subdued ambiance by making the area less bright or quieter, if thats what your child prefers. Its important to remember that not every child with autism has the same triggers or preferences, so experiment to see what works best for calming your child down.
One child may dislike bright sunshine and prefer to have the curtains drawn, whereas another may find it entrancing.
Calming Strategies For Kids With Autism
These 10 calming strategies for kids with autism will help your child relax, decrease tantrums and increase family peace & harmony! They are perfect for use in the classroom too. Pick your favorite calming strategies for kids or try them all. Many of these techniques are quick ways to calm down, although some of them will take a little longer to set up and get going. Make sure you print out your Calm Down Strategies PDF Checklist to get the most out of this post!
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Pet For An Autistic Child
We Need To Hear We Are Doing A Good Job
This is, of course, true of every parent, but it is especially true of parents of children on the Autism Spectrum. Raising a child with autism is a lifelong learning curve. As more and more is learned about the biology of autism, parents must keep up with new therapies and decide if they would be right for their child. For instance, there are new supplements, dietary concerns, and feelings about a new friend or teacher. The list of things to keep parents up at night is a long one.
What To Do When My Child Is Having A Tantrum
1. Tantrum vs. Meltdown
Before you intervene in any way, try to figure out whether your child is having an autism meltdown or tantrum. As we discussed earlier, they may look similar but they need different approaches.
Meltdowns are a response to external stimulation, while tantrums can occur when a need is not being met.
It is important to distinguish the two before having a strategy to manage the situation.
2. Figure out the motivation
Understanding what lies behind the tantrum behavior will give you the key to manage it.
You will be able to respond to it more appropriately. They may want something, like a toy or attention. Recognize this want without giving it to them.
3. Remove the audience
Sometimes removing the audience from the environment, the tantrum will stop. If you noticed this pattern, like your child tends to have tantrums in crowded areas, teach them coping mechanisms in small gatherings.
Try removing yourself from the environment . It could also help reduce and stop tantrum.
4. Praise and reinforce positive behavior
Acknowledge the feelings of your child and praise them for their good behavior.
You can give them a hug, or tell them how they managed to do the thing well. These will avoid tantrum outbursts as your child will learn that they have your attention and can be successful in doing things.
5. Build the necessary skills
We have discussed before that tantrums can be caused by lack of certain skills like problem solving or negotiating.
- impulse control,
Also Check: Creating A Visual Schedule Autism
Why Do We Need Calming Strategies For Kids With Autism
Calm down techniques are essential for instilling peace, harmony and joy in your home or classroom. Using calming activities for kids in the classroom is crucial for providing a calm, structured and relaxing environment for your students. Using calm down strategies at home, will make for a happier and more peaceful day for your child and the whole family.
Ways To Calm A Child With Autism
This blog is the fourth in a support series for parents by Marci Lebowitz, occupational therapist and autism specialist. Find out more about how Marci supports autism parents and professionals at www.marcilebowitz.com.I want to give you a few more suggestions of simple steps to calm your child.In past entries, weve looked at:
I want to encourage you to remember that before you go to calm your child, to please calm yourself first. If you have ever read the safety card on an airplane it says, In the unlikely event of losing cabin pressure, a mask will automatically drop. It is important to put your own mask on first and breathe before attending to anyone else. It is the same process to calm your child.
The starting point for calming is the same whether you child is tantrumming or in a meltdown. To calm yourself first. However, the actions you need to take for your child will differ depending on whether they are experiencing a tantrum or a meltdown. Lets do a quick review of the tell tale signs for each and then we will discuss specific suggestions, okay?Evidence of Tantrums:
Read Also: How To Make A Visual Schedule For Autism
Show Them That You Value Them
Giving your child your full attention also shows them that you care and that they are valued. Everyone wants to feel valued. Our children should always feel that we value them.
Some ways that you can give your child attention and show that they are valued include the following:
- Praise your child.
- Give physical affections, such as hugs.
- Show interest in their activities.
- Get on their level when talking.
- Make eye contact and smile while interacting.
- Give positive feedback in your daily interactions.
- Provide them with support in accomplishing daily activities .
- Build up your child with positive messages.
- Reassure your child when they are fearful.
- Support your child when they are upset.
- Make time to spend with your child one on one daily.
- Respond to your child every time they talk to you .
- Ask your child about their day with meaningful, open-ended questions.
According to the article, Positive Attention and Your Child,
From birth, children need experiences and relationships that show them theyre valued, capable human beings who bring pleasure to others. Positive attention, reactions and responses from key grown-ups help children build a picture of how valued they are.
Children must be told and shown that they are valued. What we say and how we act toward our children should be done in a way that makes them consistently feel valued. This will help build a relationship where listening and respect go both ways.
What Would You Do
For a take-home activity you can share with families, try this What Would You Do? game. Families can go through different scenarios together and decide how they would react with questions like How would you help? or What would you say?
This activity keeps social skills sharp and reinforces relationship-building skills.
You May Like: What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Autism
How To Make A Calm Down Kit For Kids With Autism
Wondering how to make a Calm Down Kit for Kids with Autism? Looking for Calm Down Box ideas? Ive got you covered! I use Calm Down Boxes in my coaching programs all the time. They will be a valuable calming, sensory tool for your child or students. Calm Down Kits are easy to make and so helpful in regulating emotions and helping kids with autism calm down and focus. Make a sensory bin next!
Children On The Autism Spectrum Are Not Dumb
Kids with autism have the potential to be absolutely brilliant. Theyre also talented, philosophical, kind, and creative. This is something much of society fails to see, but in truth, the autistic mind is simply wired differently than those not on the Autism Spectrum. Hans Christian Andersen, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Michelangelo, Mozart, and Sir Isaac Newton all are said to have exhibited autistic tendencies.
You May Like: What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Autism
No I Dont Just Need To Discipline My Child More
Meltdowns are not tantrums. They are not the result of a lack of discipline on the part of the parent. Children on the Autism Spectrum have sensory issues. One child may be a sensory avoider, while another is a sensory seeker. And kids with sensory issues do not respond well to physical punishment. Spanking, time out, and yelling are not usually effective tools of discipline for a child with autism. Rather, parents of children on the Autism Spectrum rely on routine and repeated exposure to teach their autistic children rules and boundaries.
Activities Teaching Strategies And Resources For Teaching Children With Autism
Because approximately 1 in 59 students are diagnosed with autism, learning how to help students with this disorder in the classroom is so important. Teaching young students with autism communication skills and learning strategies makes it all the more likely that theyll reach their academic potential later on. And the more you learn about autism spectrum disorder, the better youll be able to prepare these students for lifelong success.
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that causes hypersensitivity to sights, sounds, and other sensory information.;Symptoms of autism generally fall into three categories:
- Communication issues
- Social impairment
- Repetitive behaviors
Here are 15 fun activities to help children with autism feel welcome in your class while addressing their symptoms and individual learning styles. Whether you play them one-on-one or as group activities, these are excellent ways to keep students with autism engaged and ready to learn.
Read Also: What Kind Of Autism Does Symmetra Have
Calming Strategies For Autism Meltdowns
Now, before I jump into these strategies, I have a word of warning.
Please dont do all of these immediately when your child starts a meltdown.
You need to know what works for your child, and what their sensory preferences are.
Not every strategy will work for every child, so test them out one at a time to see what works best for your child.
Why These Behaviours Happen
Many autistic children have difficulties with communication, which can affect their behaviour.
Some things that can cause these behaviours include:
- being oversensitive to things like bright lights or loud noises
- being undersensitive to things like touch or pain
- anxiety, especially when routines suddenly change
- not being able to make sense of what’s going on around them
- being unwell or in pain
These behaviours are not your or your child’s fault.
Recommended Reading: Is Dr Shaun Murphy Really Autistic
Invest In A Good Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets can be very effective for children who have frequent meltdowns. These blankets apply mild pressure to the body, helping an anxious child calm down. In addition, the weights in the blankets help improve a childs body awareness which can reduce the severity of the meltdown. Alternatively, weighted vests give similar calming sensory feedback, and are a great option for summer and travel.
Im Not An Autism Expert
If you want to learn more about autism and what its like to be autistic, there is one reliable source: a person on the Autism Spectrum. Parents of autistic children can tell you what it is like to live with a person on the Spectrum. They are experts on their own child. But the only person who can tell you what its like to live with autism is an autistic person himself.
You May Like: What Kind Of Autism Does Symmetra Have
Anxiety Triggers: How To Identify Them In Autistic Children And Teenagers
Finding out what makes your autistic child anxious is a first step in reducing your childs anxiety and helping them to manage it.
Because autistic children and teenagers can have trouble with understanding and communicating emotions, you might need to read your childs signals and work out what makes your child feel anxious or stressed.
Some of the common triggers for anxiety in autistic children include:
- changes in routine for example, not going to a weekly piano lesson because the teacher is sick
- changes in environment for example, a new house, new play equipment at the local park, or furniture in different places at home
- unfamiliar social situations for example, a birthday party at an unfamiliar house
- sensory sensitivities for example, sensitivities to particular noises, bright lights, specific flavours or food textures
- fear of a particular situation, activity or object for example, sleeping in their own bed, going to the toilet, balloons or vacuum cleaners.
- times of transition for example, moving into a new school year, starting secondary school, or the start of puberty.
Once youve worked out some of the things that make your child feel anxious, it can help to make a list of them, so that you can find ways to help your child manage these situations.
Give your child lots of opportunities to practise dealing with these things and situations in safe environments.