Calming Strategies during hard times for kids with Autism

Children with autism are often more sensitive to their surroundings. What may seem like a perfectly ordinary situation, may be incredibly stressful for a child with autism. Since sensory processing usually accompanies those on the spectrum, loud noises, certain fabric and crowded situations can feel overwhelming. Knowing how to help a child with autism calm down can make a huge difference in how they cope with the world around them.


3 Ways to Express Emotion

In today’s climate, there are many stressors for both children and adults. Being able to express one’s feelings is essential when learning how to cope and create a plan that works. By showing emotions in an appropriate way, both children and adults can avoid isolation.

Talking it out.

Using words to express feelings during a time of stress can be especially helpful when a situation seems too tough to take in all at once. Rather than holding a feeling in isolation, encouraging communication is key. Articulating how an emotion feels in the body can be a great start. Sadness is often felt in the chest. Anxiety is usually felt in the stomach.


Sometimes talking will not work, especially if a child has excessive energy. Playing or working on a puzzle can distract them for a few moments until they have a chance to naturally calm down.

Listening to music.

Quiet music can be a great way to soothe a child. This is especially helpful if it is an album that is played during times of quiet like just before bed or early in the morning.

Limiting Screen Time

The media can be a trigger for autistic children during times of stress. It is often difficult to tell what news is real and what isn’t and with so much stimulation, this can worsen anxiety in many children.

By setting a specific amount of time that your child is allowed to use a phone/computer or television, rules are consistent and easy to understand. Structure is often a calming method for those on the spectrum. Screen time can easily be incorporated into this routine.

 Routines Are Important


Planning the next step is a classic way to ease anxiety. Whether it is a plan for treatment or a plan for the day, knowing what will happen and when is often a life saver for kids on the spectrum.

For children that are not in school, unstructured time can seem daunting. Breaking time into intervals of 30 minutes with separate activities can help manage anxiety. Activities do not need to be complicated or extreme.
Reading a book for a half hour or going for a walk can all be scheduled. Children can help create a schedule if they are old enough to understand. Teaching an autistic child how to manage time by breaking a problem into smaller parts is helpful not only for anxiety, but for executive functioning as well.


During a stressful time, children who are on the spectrum may have a difficult time understanding what they feel and how to cope.
By encouraging conversation and planning skills, what may seem like a big problem can be broken into smaller, more manageable pieces. This is a great skill to have at any age.

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