How to calm an autistic child: 31 tips to deal with autistic crisis (2023)

If you're looking for tips and resources to help you calm an autistic child at home, at school, in therapy, and while traveling, you've come to the right place! Keep reading for our top tips for preventing meltdowns, managing the duration and intensity of meltdowns when they occur, and our favorite calming tools and activities to put kids (and adults) back into a zen-like state when they hit them. great feelings threaten to erupt. take over control.

What is an autistic breakdown?

Most, if not all, parents of children as young as 2 have had a tantrum at some point in their lives, but few people really understand the difference between a tantrum and an autistic meltdown. On the surface, they look quite similar, but whereas tantrums are usually goal-directed behaviors directed by an audience, autistic meltdowns usually occur in response to feelings of being overwhelmed and occur with or without an audience member.

Tantrums are often a manipulative ploy young children use to try to get what they want and can usually be remedied with proper discipline. Autistic meltdowns, on the other hand, can occur at any age, are more intense and emotional, and generally last much longer. A crisis usually starts with warning signs called "noises", characterized by an accumulation of emotions that cause screams, footsteps and other behaviors that suggest that the person is about to lose control and, if not redirected in time, can lead to explosive rage.

Dealing with autistic meltdowns can be extremely difficult. Unlike tantrums, autistic meltdowns cannot be reduced by rewards and bribes because the purpose of the meltdown is not to get something. There is no end goal other than gaining control of an overwhelming situation, and it takes time for parents and caregivers to figure out how to calm an autistic child and prevent such behaviors from occurring.

7 tips to avoid an autistic meltdown

While tantrums seem to come out of nowhere, autistic meltdowns often follow a predictable flow (noise, anger, and recovery) and there are certain things caregivers can do to prevent them from occurring and to reduce the intensity of meltdowns when they do occur. . Here are 7 ideas to consider.

Use an ABC table.If you want to know how to calm an autistic child, you should start by tracking his behavior over a few weeks using an antecedent-behavior-consequence chart, or ABC chart. It's incredibly easy to set up and use, and can be very powerful in identifying the root cause of challenging behavior. Each time your child has a nervous breakdown, take a few minutes to write down the ABC's of that specific event and the behaviors that occurred:

Prehistory:The events that occurred before the collapse.
To behave:Your child's reaction to the antecedent.
Consequence:What happened after the behavior to encourage/avoid a repeat of the situation.

The idea is to track the same behavior, in this case the crash, multiple times to see if there are matches, then formulate a plan to modify the history and/or consequences to ensure the crashes stop.

Formulate an action plan.While it may be tempting to avoid things that trigger seizures in our children, avoidance behavior is a short-term solution with long-term effects, so be careful! Our ultimate goal as parents is to help our children become independent. So once you know what triggers your child's seizures, it's time to put pen to paper and find strategies your child can use when faced with overwhelming things. Not sure where to start or what will work? Read on as we share more ideas on how to calm an autistic child!

(Video) How to Handle an Autism Tantrum | Autism

Recognize the warning signs.The noisy phase of an autistic breakdown often manifests itself in such a way that parents and caregivers can eventually spot the warning signs early on. The child may become tense, withdrawn, or show more outward signs such as pacing or talking softly. Whatever the predecessor, early intervention is the key to dealing with autistic seizures, so be aware and act fast!

Divert and distract.Once you've identified the warning signs of an impending meltdown, redirect and distract your child as much as you can to keep her emotions from running high.

Stay calm.I know it sounds obvious, but when it comes to figuring out how to calm an autistic child, never underestimate the power of your own words, actions and non-verbal cues. Lead by example by taking deep breaths, avoiding sudden movements, and speaking softly to help everyone feel calm.

Change the environment.If possible, remove the person from the situation and take them to a quiet place to calm them down. Consider creating a sensory space or nook in your home with calming features - and always have some.these relaxing ideasin your car or in your pocket, so you are prepared and ready to intervene if necessary.

Allow voting (if sure).Although parents generally try to discourage stimming in public, we fail to understand that these behaviors help our child to self-regulate and should not be intercepted during a crisis unless the person is self-harming.

9 tips for dealing with autistic seizures

As no two people with autism are alike, dealing with autistic meltdowns can be highly individual, and it will take some trial and error on your part to figure out how to successfully calm an autistic child. The good news is that many parents, therapists, and teachers have walked the path before you, and there are specific tools and strategies you can use to keep big emotions in check when a crisis threatens to erupt.

Be consistent and stick to a schedule.Children with autism tend to thrive best when their lives follow a regular routine with consistency across the board. While this isn't always possible, sticking to a predictable schedule whenever possible will help your child. Talk to your therapist and teachers to ensure you work together, and let your child know as soon as possible if events threaten to disrupt your daily routine (eg, travel, school holidays, etc.).

Use images.Visual schedules are created using images, symbols, words, etc. and are a visual representation of a sequence of events. Most classrooms use a basic schedule that outlines the various activities students will participate in throughout the day (thisPocket chart for daily scheduleis a great option), but some children benefit from a more detailed description of what is going to happen from one moment to the next. This ensures they know what is expected of them so they can plan ahead and have better control over their emotions.CLICK HEREfor a more in-depth discussion of visual schedules and why they work so well with children and adults on the autism spectrum, plus some of our favorite free printable and paid templates to start implementing today.

Issue notices about transitions.Giving warnings about transitions is another great strategy for dealing with autistic meltdowns. This is especially important when a child switches from a favorite activity to one they find less interesting. FORstopwatchIt's a great tool as it visually shows kids the passage of time, and providing a 10, 5, and 3 minute alert can also help ease the transition.

Use reward systems.Positive reinforcement, the act of reinforcing the desired behavior immediately after it occurs to make it more likely to occur again, is a great strategy for encouraging good behavior in children with autism. Ignoring unwanted behaviors (seizures) and rewarding positive interactions through sticker charts is a great tool for managing autistic seizures. We talk more about how to calm an autistic child through reward systemsHERE.

(Video) A Life-Changing Therapy For Children With Autism At The Child Study Center

Check sensory sensitivities.While some children with autism spectrum disorders have reduced sensitivity to environmental stimuli, others can be overly sensitive to things like noise, light, temperature, taste and texture, which can make everyday life difficult and lead to more meltdowns. HeSensory Intelligence websiteis a great resource for parents and teachers of children with sensory processing disorders. It was created by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske, co-authors of the book."Raising a Sensory Intelligent Child", and offers all sorts of useful strategies, including handy tips to help with everyday challenges like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and learning to use the potty. We've also created a comprehensive list of sensory eating activities you can do at home to help meet your child's unique sensory needs and reduce reading anxiety.HERE.

Create a calming ritual.When children with autism feel overwhelmed, they may find it difficult to control themselves, and the emotional responses they display are nothing more than an attempt to control themselves. Taking the time to teach our children calming techniques can go a long way toward making them feel less helpless when their feelings go awry. Below are some of our suggestions on how to quickly calm an autistic child, as well as our favorite calming activities that children of all ages and abilities can benefit from.

Have stress-relieving toys on hand.There are many products on the market specifically designed to help children relieve stress and calm down. FORrestless cubeIt's good for helping children and adults to focus on something other than their feelings for a few moments. FORSensory fidget slap bracelet toyIt also works well as a tactile toy to distract younger children when they're feeling overwhelmed. Even give some to your childcoloring booksand crayons can help them calm down and overcome their discomfort. My biggest suggestion when it comes to choosing and experimenting with different toys and stress relief tools is to find some that complement your child's nurturing tendencies. If he or she likes to twirl, aFidget spinnerIt will be a great option. FORsensory chewing chainWorks well for kids who like to bite nails, clothes, hair, etc.fidget clickerworks well with kids who need to keep their hands busy.

Make sure the whole family gets enough sleep.Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to chronic health problems such as weight gain, forgetfulness, impatience (!!!!) and depression. And since lack of sleep can also make autism symptoms worse, it might seem like a cruel joke that autism is linked to impairments in the body's circadian rhythms, abnormal melatonin levels, anxiety and sensory processing sensitivities, all of which have negative effects. in sleep. ! Unfortunately, there's no magic pill you can take to make sure you and your family get a good night's sleep every night, but there are some things you can do to improve everyone's sleep quality, including:

  • Avoid sugary and caffeinated foods and drinks after 12 pm. M
  • Set regular wake up and sleep times and never deviate from them
  • Set a predictable bedtime and stick to it to prepare your child's body for sleep
  • Eliminate stimulating activities an hour before bed
  • To useblue light blocking glasseswhen using electronic devices before bed. The blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, e-readers, etc. It can disrupt your body clock and these glasses are designed to help you use these devices without ill effects.
  • Consider sensory tools like asound machine,weighted blanket, EUpersianas blackoutfor sensually sensitive children

Take time for yourself.One of the hardest things about parenting a child with autism or other special needs is finding ways to take a break, and when your child is prone to autistic flare-ups, it can sometimes feel downright impossible to rest and find rejuvenation. But guess what? It is actually NOT impossible. There are several recovery options that help parents of children with developmental disabilities, and whether you choose an outside program or hire a caregiver to come to your home, you can be confident that your child is in the right place. Hands of someone certified and trained to take care of your individual needs while you recharge to be more present and available when you return home.

How to quickly calm an autistic child

If you are new to autism and want to know how to calm an autistic child ASAP, I encourage you to consider two things before doing anything else:

  1. Your child doesn't make things difficult for you, it's difficult for them.I don't know who first coined those words, but they're great to keep in mind when your child is having an autistic meltdown. Unlike tantrums in very young children, autistic meltdowns are not a ploy to get attention or ruin the day. Your child is crying, screaming, pacing, hitting, hitting, and/or hurting himself because he feels overwhelmed and unable to control his emotions.
  2. Crises are harder on your child than they are on you.It can often seem that autistic meltdowns are more difficult for parents or caregivers who try to step in and defuse the situation, but I promise you this is not the case. Autistic meltdowns are the result of intense feelings of being overwhelmed, and many autistic people feel ashamed and guilty about their actions after they calm down.

Of course, dealing with autistic meltdowns is beyond understanding and compassion, and while no two people with autism are the same and everyone responds to different calming strategies and techniques, this collection of ideas offers great advice on how to calm an autistic child. fast.

Noise canceling headphones.Autistic meltdowns often occur in response to feelings of being overwhelmed, and because many people with autism are sensitive to noise, there are someNoise canceling headphonesIt can be a game changer for you and your family. Try them out, and if you notice they make a difference, keep a pair in your child's school bag, purse, and car glove compartment so you're always prepared. If autism and noise sensitivity is a sore point for your child, I would also recommend a donationfoam ear plugsGive them a try as they are much more portable and discreet.

deep pressure.The sensory information it providesheavy blanketstriggers the release of serotonin, which in turn helps to regulate feelings of anxiety. Of course, carrying a 10-pound blanket isn't always useful (laughs), butweighted lap pillowsoffers a great way to use deep pressure therapy on the go. Before ordering your weighted blanket or lap pillow, please remember that these should not be more than 10% of your child's body weight plus 1-2 pounds and that blankets of any type should not be used until the child is older than 12 months. . Can't afford any of the tools and/or need a quick fix if you forgot yours at home? Try to grip your child's arms firmly with your hands, starting at the shoulders and ending at the wrists.

make bubbles.Mindful breathing is a very effective calming strategy, but it can be difficult to teach young children, and even those familiar with the technique can struggle when big emotions take over. An easy way to encourage deep breathing to help your child find their way back to a place of calm ispop bubblestogether. This will force your child to breathe deeply and relax naturally, and the bubbles will serve as a wonderful secondary distraction.

(Video) What to do when my Autistic child has a meltdown

Lavender.Several essential oils are known to help children stay calm and sleep better during transitions, and more and more people are using them.colo of lavender,lavender swab, jLavendel-Spraysto manage autistic breakdowns.CLICK HEREfor a much more detailed discussion of essential oils and autism, including which blends work best and how to use them safely.

Board.If you're on the go and can't avoid one of your child's triggers and/or feel a meltdown, equip your child with a pair ofNoise canceling headphonesallowing them to watch their favorite shows, play their favorite games and/or listen to relaxing music on a tablet is a simple distraction that can work wonders.

Do nothing.While there are many other different tools you can try (and buy) to help alleviate an autistic breakdown, interventions can often do more harm than good, and sometimes it's best to get your child to a safe place and the meltdown to stop. let it run. course.

9 relaxing activities for autistic people

Dealing with autistic meltdowns isn't always easy, especially since every child's triggers are so different and the calming strategies that work for one child may not work for another, but incorporating different autism calming activities into your routine is a great way to help. Teach your child effective coping strategies.

Conscious Breathing.When an attack strikes, your child's breathing pattern changes. Often, he or she will start to take short, quick, shallow breaths, which can make you feel even more overwhelmed than you already are. Mindful breathing is a great tool to teach your child to use when their emotions threaten to overwhelm their body. There are many different techniques you can try and I suggest starting with the bubble technique. If your child is quiet, give him asmall bubble tankThis is how you can practice blowing bubbles with a magic wand. Your child will quickly learn that if you blow too hard or too fast, the bubble will burst before it forms. But by blowing slowly and intentionally, he or she can blow the perfect bubble. Let your child practice the technique with real bubbles before removing them and let their imagination run wild. Once you've learned this skill, you can ask your child to pretend that he's blowing bubbles when he's feeling overwhelmed.

Make a rest cup.Also known as a "glitter bottle", it is simply a jar filled with glitter, glue and water, as well as other accessories your child is attracted to. They are easy to perform and can be extremely relaxing as they help to reduce anxiety and fear, helping to control anger. Shaking and watching the contents of a bottle of tranquilizer settle forces the body to focus, which in turn allows your child to organize his thoughts and "center" his nervous system. The idea is that as objects fall into the tranquilizer bottle, your child's heart rate and rapid breathing will also slow down, allowing him to control his emotions.

To create your own bottle of calm, mixGlitzerkleberwith hot water, add a few dropsdyeand whisk vigorously until the glue "melts" and mixes well with the water. I don't follow any particular glue/water ratio when making mine, I just mix it up and hope for the best LOL, but you can customize it to your liking. then addextra shine, shake vigorously again, pour the mixture into a clear glass (I use achange Gatorade-Containerwith label removed) and fill the bottle with water until it is completely full. Let the water cool to room temperature before attaching the lid with glue (I use aKlebepistole) to make sure it is properly sealed and not leaking.

mindfulness labyrinths.Mazes are one of my favorite mindfulness activities for kids as they are so effective in helping kids calm down and focus when emotions are running high. I foundthis collection of "conscious mazes" at Teachers Pay Teachers, which can be used as finger labyrinths or supplemented with a pencil. You can use these in therapy or in the classroom and I love that you can print some out and keep them in your bag to help redirect your child's emotions and make it easier to deal with autistic seizures when you're away.

Dye.I've recently noticed that relaxing coloring books for adults are popping up in bookstores all over the place, which got me thinking about how coloring can serve as a helpful calming exercise for kids. Instead of just painting and mindlessly talking after school, ask your child to say out loud the steps you use for painting: "I'm painting", "I'm going to paint the pink flower", "I" . I'll get the pink pencil", "Drawing helps me calm down". The idea is to teach your child to silently say these things to himself over time to keep him focused on the task at hand and teach him to use the color as a mindfulness tool when signs and symptoms arise.

Create your own zen garden.a friend of mine had oneit was transparenton your dinner table when I was little and loved it. I found 'putting together' the sand very relaxing, especially when we were studying for an exam together. you can buy onezen garden for kidsto help redirect your child when they are upset or upset, or you can easily make your own (a great activity to do together!)small roasting pan,Arena,stones, it is agabel.

(Video) Once a non-verbal child with autism, Ava hopes her story will help other kids with special needs

Flashcards for self-control.If your child struggles with impulsivity, emotion regulation, and anxiety, theseself-regulation flashcardsThey are a great way to prevent a meltdown as they provide breathing and movement exercises that children can practice to help them focus, calm down and manage their emotions.

Sensory game.When a child engages all of their senses in a specific activity, more neural pathways are created in the brain!sensory activitiesThey can benefit all children and are especially helpful for those on the autism spectrum. Sensory play offers children a natural (and fun) way to discover, explore and understand their world, which in turn helps develop their language and social skills, fine and gross motor skills, and self-control and self-regulation. Capabilities. Sensory activities can also be very calming, which can be especially helpful for children with autism. If you haven't already, it might be a good idea to discuss sensory activities for autism with your child's occupational therapist or other trained professional to find out what types of activities work best for your child. We have 100+ sensory game ideas that you can use at home.EXACTLY HERE.

Internal switch.Hanging swings are a great way to instil a sense of calm in children who have a hard time sitting still, improving their body awareness and bringing them back to a zen place. Many children refer to these swings as "nests" or "cocoons", and parents praise their ability to defuse seizures!CLICK HEREOn an internal balance sheet, one of my mother's friends relies on her daughter.

Tons.sensory tools liketonThey're great to include in your child's calming kit for a quick, relaxing distraction when emotions are running high. Kneading, shaping, stretching and creating with Play-Doh can be extremely relaxing and comforting, and it's an inexpensive, portable option for when your child needs a take on the go.

Being a parent or caregiver for a child with autism is not easy. Not for long! From finding the best therapy and education options to dealing with sleep deprivation and feelings of loneliness, the added stress of emotional breakdowns can be extremely overwhelming.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control's Monitoring of Autism and Developmental Disabilities reported that about one in every 68 children in the United States has some form of autism spectrum disorder, which means that there are many more mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers and second cousins ​​navigating the rocky waters of autism with you.

Reach out to them through support groups in your community, find them on online forums, befriend them, and remember:You are not alone.

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How to calm an autistic child: 31 tips to deal with autistic crisis (1)

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