Health Magazine

Staying Ahead of the Storm

By Joysautismblog @joysautismblog

This blog post is part of Best of the Best over at SOS Research Blog and the topic for this edition is calming techniques that parents use with their special needs kids. I wanted to share what we do and on the 15th of the month there will be many articles shared right here!

I think the best way to deal with stresses and meltdowns is to stay ahead of them. Stay ahead of the storm.

Staying Ahead of the Storm

Like when you have surgery and your doctor tells you to stay on top of your pain medication so you don’t have to suffer later, we try to stay on top of meltdown triggers to avoid Adrian suffering later or the family suffering later. Of course we can’t always predict or prevent what is going to set a person off. Here is what we try to do to stay ahead of the storm:

We try to keep Adrian’s days predictable. If it isn’t going to be a normal day for him for some reason we try to tell him ahead of time so the change isn’t a shock.

We try to know what he likes and what he doesn’t like and let people who come into contact with him know his likes and dislikes also.

We try to remain calm and consistent. If Adrian is screaming loudly in a store and I’m embarrassed or even angry…I try my very best to remain calm and consistent with my parenting.

Adrian isn’t huge on meltdowns or big fits. Adrian needs calming more when he’s happy or excited then any other time. I wanted to share a few things that have helped us during the times that Adrian was overwhelmed or when he was overwhelming the family.

When Adrian is really excited he will yell/moan very loudly, he also does very high pitched quick squeals. He cannot help this, it’s just part of who he is. I can tell when he does try to control it, it’s extremely difficult for him. We have not found anything that will consistently help him to calm down from the loud and yes sometimes, nerve wracking behavior. One thing I know though is that it doesn’t seem comfortable, and it seems stressful, for him to have to yell loudly to get out that extra energy so we try to help him if we can.

Distraction seems to be the best tool for us at this time. Adrian loves to draw so sometimes a pen and paper will go a long way in getting him calmed down. Adrian also has a few select songs that he likes to listen to and he will be pretty calm and quiet for them. Another thing he loves is the computer although many times what he is overstimulated about is coming from the computer screen.

A heavy touch (a tight hug or weighted vest or blanket) are commonly used to calm down kids who have sensory issues. Adrian hated the weighted vest, he cried and said “Get me out of this thing!” so clearly what works for one family may not work for another. A hug can work sometimes for Adrian but Adrian also loves a light touch on his arms or back.

A stress ball has helped Adrian with some of his pinching behavior in the past and I noticed his new OT at the new school tied an exercise band (those elastic band things) around the bottom of Adrian’s chair legs and he likes to fling it back and forth with his feet while he sits there. Sometimes just something to fiddle with can calm the nerves.

For us, being overly stimulated is usually Adrian’s cause for a meltdown. Like I said, we haven’t found things that consistently help him but the important thing is to break out your box of tools and tricks and try to help them calm down. You never know when you’ll find something that gets the job done.

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