Finding the right strategies for your child can make a huge difference to help when stressed. My eldest loves deep pressure and this works well for him. This is a guest post about different calming strategies you can try by Ava Wadaby. Ava is a contributing writer for Autism Parenting Magazine.
If you have a child with autism, then you likely know that losing control is common experience. We often refer to these as meltdowns but you know that it’s a challenging part of parenting a child with autism. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to minimize these breakdowns. These strategies are a good way to improve calmness on a daily basis.
Calm Breathing Strategies
Whenever anyone is about to lose their temper, we often know that it’s recommended to take deep breaths. It’s hard to tell a person this when they’re about to have a meltdown. However, if you’ve ever done it then you know that deep breaths are an effective calming strategy.
Kids may not always respond to your telling them to take deep breaths. However, one simple strategy to try is having them blow bubbles. This is a way to encourage them to take deep breaths. Another technique for visualization is having them blow out a candle. These are techniques to practice with kids and then use them as needed.
Calming Essential Oils
Most people use essential oils for their calming effects. They can also be beneficial for anyone with autism to have a relaxing effect. A 2012 study found that essential oils work by traveling through the central nervous system when infused. This is why many people infuse essential oils in their homes.
There isn’t only one oil that has this effect. Many people try blends of essential oils or experiment to find which oils work best for their kids. Lavender is one of the best essential oils for calming. It’s been used for hundreds of years to reduce anxiety and has been found to affect our emotions. Lavender works to reduce anxiety and stress.
Other essential oils that have a calming effect include orange, sandalwood, frankincense, and peppermint. While this list is certainly not extensive, consider trying some of these oils. Start with one and consider making your own blends or using pre-made blends. You might be surprised at how effective these oils can be on a daily basis.
Deep Pressure stimulation
When you’re stressed and having a meltdown, sometimes a hug can be a great way to stop you in your tracks. Although this method doesn’t work for every child, it can be an effective solution. Deep pressure has been shown to have a calming effect, especially for people who have anxiety. It works similarly in people with autism.
Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily the best idea for every child. It’s a good idea to try out a deep squeeze with your child and ask them if they like it. Some kids love having this done and will even ask for it when they start to feel anxiety. However, you should try out this calming strategy and discuss whether your child wants this done.
Calm Down Spaces
Calm down spaces and even corners can be a great strategy for autism meltdowns. The basic premise here is that your child has a safe space that they feel comfortable in. For some children, you can go with them to the corner to help them with this goal. Others may want to be alone to experience their emotions.
Although this isn’t a viable option when you’re out and about, you can have a designated area in the house where your child can go. Corners or other semi-enclosed spaces often work well as they feel more isolated and protected. You can make the corner a safe space by adding a weighted blanket, pillows, or whatever your child responds to.
Although meltdowns are part of growing up with autism, that doesn’t mean you have to let your child struggle with their emotions. There are good options to help them resolve their feelings. Not all of these options work well with every child but they’re a place to start.
If you’re looking for just one option to implement, consider diffusing essential oils in the home. This is the simplest strategy to employ and often works wonders without making any other changes. Since this method has been studied, it’s a great idea with usually good results. When you don’t know what to do about your child’s meltdowns, you can help them regulate their moods with these strategies.
Ava Wadaby is a contributing writer for Autism Parenting Magazine. She researches and writes about autism as she works to understand the challenges of her son who was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. She also regularly conducts activities with children in her neighbourhood, focusing on their learning and development.