One of the biggest challenges for many families who have an autistic or special needs child is dealing with a meltdown behavior. “What calming strategies have you found to be successful?” is often a common question. Here are the Top 10 Ways to calm a child having a meltdown:
1. Prevention is the best policy. Learn to identify and avoid meltdown triggers.
2. Do your research —especially if triggers aren’t obvious–to determine what factors were in place that resulted in a meltdown: make a list of things going on before the behavior took a turn for the worse and see if you can find patterns.
3. Use deep pressure including weighted blankets and massage to ease your child back into a calmer state.
4. Create a diversion that will take your child’s attention elsewhere. This could be singing a song, taking a walk, making silly faces, or whatever usually makes your child laugh.
5. Keep yourself calm and seek a calm environment to encourage de-escalation.
6. Aromatherapy can be soothing especially lavender and chamomile oils.
7. Provide positive verbal reinforcements as your child shows signs of calming down.
8. A pop-up tent can be effective in easing your child by providing alone-time. Place soothing objects inside such as a bean bag, soft blanket, a favorite book, etc.
9. A Gluten-Free diet and various biomedical treatments over time may result in a lessening of meltdown tendencies.
10. Consider noise-canceling headphones to eliminate auditory input which can lead to sensory overload.
As an occupational therapist that specializes in sensory integration and behaviors, I am passionate about helping parents with parenting strategies to manage behaviors. You can have an introductory conversation or book a session with me from my personal page.
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