Tag: calm corners

How Sensory Regulation Helps With Challenging Behaviors


I began to see a big shift in Michael the day he began to notice he had sensory issues and how he could handle or regulate these. The first time was about four years ago. He was having issues when he first came in from school, a usual difficult time of the day for all kids, but particularly kids with neuro developmental issues or autism. We began working with a great Psycho Educator who suggested, based on his activity preference, what she called a “calm box or corner.” In this box would be objects like squeeze toys he could use and beans to play with, all these to handle with his hands which helped calm him down. The “calm corner” was similar for his central nervous system. It had toys like this as well as stuffed animals to squeeze, a ball, a boxing punching bag if he was angry etc. There were also pillow that he could put on top of him or around him like a fort. As well, it could include his swing and trampoline and a play tunnel to run through. And guess what happened? After talking with him about his feelings of anxiety and overload and how he couldn’t come home and yell and throw things, one glorious day Michael connected the pieces. He came through the door, looked at me and I could tell he was wiped out. He said:

“I need to go downstairs to my calm corner and run through my tunnel.”

He was six years old! I was so glad he was beginning to make that connection of body and mind and learn to start regulating. Michael’s sensory issues even now interfere with his functioning sometimes. We are now back to using gum which helps him focus, stay calm in situations where he is nervous or tired. We have also ordered him some vibrating toys as he likes to clink toys against his chin and if no toy is available use his hand. He was starting to leave a red mark which was worrying us so we have now implemented that. The exciting this though is when Michael started connecting the dots and was able to communicate his needs to Dad and I. From there, we have all been able to come up with tools together where Michael gets the final say as to what works.

Exceptional Parents, are you struggling to help your Exceptional Child regulate their sensory issues? Are they exhibiting a lot of bad behaviors due to this? You are not alone. It happens to all of us at one time or another. Just remember to try and communicate with your child. Ask them how they are feeling and help them learn to be their own little detective in figuring out how they can meet their sensory needs. If you play detective as well, you will be able to see what sets them off and what helps them. It will be the gift of a lifetime when they have tools to handle the difficult times in their life. And you as a parent will be calmer and happier seeing your child manage their stress so well.  Until next time.

Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life? Do you need support on your journey?  I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

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Hormones and Boys With Autism-The Scary, The Funny and Learning to Navigate Between the Two

This has been an interesting few months for Michael and I. He is learning new ways to test as a young preteen, hormones raging pushing me away as he is a “big boy,” and at other times trying to pull me in close telling me he is “a little guy, a baby.” Both descriptions are not completely accurate as he is neither completely an adolescent or completely a little boy. He is a mix of the two, and he rides that mix well. There are times it is funny, such as when he doesn’t like what I say and will tell me, “You’re not the good parent now. I can’t wait for Daddy to come home”, or when he is really upset and cursing or becoming aggressive towards us and himself due to frustration and stress. It is a learning curve for him and us, and we are slowly learning to ride that curve the best way we can while all keeping our balance.

The first thing I and many special needs parents learn with handling challenging behaviors is to remain calm and collected. They tend to exacerbate when the parent wigs out and starts yelling too. So I have learned not to join in on Michael’s chaos, and remain as calm and detached as I can. When I have had an off day or am closing to losing it myself, I excuse myself and tell him I am going to my Mommy calm corner as I have mentioned before. Fortunately, this happens less and less as I have learned better strategies for managing my stress too. It is a challenging time for any child when they are at the crossroads of leaving childhood behind and embracing adolescence. There is so much going on in their minds and bodies. Parents need to be patient and help guide them as best as possible. Autism makes it all that much more difficult to guide at times. What is working for me are the following techniques:

  1. Reminding child you are there to listen to them or staying close even if they don’t want to talk.
  2. Redirecting them to use their “calm down” techniques like fidget toys, various sensory equipment, and yoga or deep breathing or any form of exercise.
  3. Talking about how they could have handled the feelings better afterwards. This works for adults too.
  4. Setting limits on negative behavior in a calm and gentle way- Do not tolerate hitting, screaming, biting, swearing. And try not to use “taking things away” too much. If you have a token system stay true to it if it is helping the child.
  5. Look for signs of physical issues- i.e. upset stomach, loose baby teeth, muscle pain, virus etc. All of this can affect behavior.

Exceptional Parents, what changes have you noticed with your Exceptional Children when they go from one age to another and achieve one milestone only to be frustrated at the next stage? What techniques do you use the have worked and which have failed? As with many parents, I’m sure you have learned through trial and error how to put the best foot forward. Remember, stay calm, stay in the moment, and remind your child that you love and are there for them always. Until next time.

One of the most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS