Did you know 1 in 68 kids in the U.S. have autism spectrum disorders and that there was a thirty percent increase in the number of children diagnosed in just two years? Parenting a child with autism can be extremely challenging and we have the sincerest respect and empathy for all of you doing it every day. One of the most common behaviors parents have to deal with is meltdowns – sometimes several a day. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we thought we’d share 10 techniques for calming kids with autism.
- Remember the Rule of One – Use the rule of one when a child is over-stressed or having a meltdown. Have only one person try to help the child calm down. More people can make the situation worse by making the child feel over stimulated.
- Create Routines – Children with autism spectrum disorders need structure and routines in their life so they know what to expect each day. Changes in this routine can cause stress, so sticking to a schedule as much as possible is best.
- Breathe Deep – When a child gets upset their breathing is short and fast, which increases blood pressure. Practice taking slow, deep breaths to help your child calm down and to give them something to focus on.
- Use a Timer – This is good for decreasing the tantrums before they even have a chance to start. Kids with autism spectrum disorders have a difficult time with transitions, so using a phone as a timer can be helpful in communicating that you will be moving on to a new activity.
- Try a Stress Ball – Any isometric exercise is good, like pushing hands or knees together, pushing against a wall, or shrugging your shoulders to relieve stress. Having a ball to squeeze is helpful because, again, it gives the child just one thing to focus on.
- First/Then – Another great tip for helping get through transitions is creating rewards for doing something that your child doesn’t want to do. This makes it very clear that if the child will do this activity now, then later they can do something else they’d like to do.
- Apply Deep Pressure – This helps the muscles let go of tension. Have the child wrap themselves tightly in a blanket or have a weighted pillow that they can hug tightly. A bear hug can work wonders, too.
- Give Massages – A small hand held massager that the child controls on their own can be very calming. Having the child rub lotion on their arms and legs is another good way to help calm them down.
- Use A Box of Tactile Items – A box with fabric swatches, small stuffed animals, and soft toys is an excellent distraction. Many kids love the feeling of exploring with their fingers, so having some type of sensory box is a great tool to have around.
- Create A Calm Corner – This can be anywhere in your house that’s a designated quiet zone for your child to go to when they’re overwhelmed. A bean bag, stuffed animals, white noise, and calm lighting can create the perfect place to get away from stress.
- Here’s a bonus tip: We’ve heard from countless parents that Cloud b sleep aids work wonders with kids with autism. Here are some of the award-winning products recommended by National Autism Resources:
- Sleep Sheep Smart Sensor which features four soothing sounds to help a child relax and calm down: heartbeat, waves, raindrops and whale songs. Let the sleep sheep create a calm environment.
- Glow Cuddles Bear is a special bear with “heart” that combines both sight and touch to help kids relax. With just a hug, this touch activated bear offers a soothing glow and calming vibrating heartbeat.
- Twilight Turtle is our award-winning night light that’s great for helping calm and relax kids by projecting constellations on the ceiling of your kid’s bedroom. The starry night that is created by Twilight Turtle contains 8 unique constellations making it an educational toy as well.
- The Cloud B Plush aroma pillows have an all-natural lavender scent to help kids calm down. These soft, plush, friendly ladybugs look cute and are shaped like a warm snuggly pillow.
- Tranquil Turtle with stunning visual effects. This amazing turtle projects an absolutely mesmerizing underwater light effect onto any ceiling. Set the lighting effect to move or stay still. Want a darker room? No problem easily adjust the brightness with a slide control. While watching the water effect you have the choice of listening to a tranquil melody or the sound of ocean waves.
Do you have any tips or special techniques for calming kids with autism? Please share them in the comments! Every family situation is unique, so the more tips and tools we can provide, the better we can empower people to address the challenges of parenting children with autism and autism spectrum disorders.