Helping your child through a crisis

There are some theories that children with autism remain in “fight or flight” response because of sensory integration problems. This can manifest through tantrums or withdrawing or repetitive behaviors.

If there is a real crisis, the first thing you must do is make sure you are safe, your loved ones are safe, and the emergency is now stable. Once that happens, take a few minutes to help yourself calm down so that you can continue to manage the situation with a clearer state of mind. Then you can help your child calm down.

♫    Tune in –  Try to determine what emotion your child may be feeling (fear, anger, sadness, pain). Offer familiar, comforting items or stimulation. Some children seek deep pressure, so firmly squeeze their hands or give a tight hug. Some children do not handle touch, so offer a loved toy and speak calmly. Sing a familiar song or lullaby with a steady beat and firm voice.

♫    Tune up –  Use a comforting tone in your voice as you explain what is happening or what will happen. Your child needs some predictability and stability, so offer information in a calming way, even if you think he may not understand what you are saying. Or just let your child know that you love her and that everything is ok.

♫    Tune out – Try limiting other simulation by dimming the lights a little and eliminating noises.