One thing that is every parent’s nightmare with an Autistic child is to have a tantrum and no way to calm them down. That is why it is important to have a room or area set aside for your child so you can help to calm the child down before a tantrum starts, or send them to in order to help reduce the amount of until the tantrum is under control again. Here are three versions of a calming room you can create to help when your child is about to have a tantrum.
The HUG room
This is a popular and good one for calming your child down. The hug room needs to feature calming products that help the child calm down by offering a feeling of security with warmth and weight like a hug. In this room you can have a weighted blanket, or a weighted vest in case your child doesn’t need to lay down. Both of these help to give the feeling of a bear hug which can be comforting and calming. Another great item to have in this space is a crash pad (this is used by many therapists and parents in combination with a weighted blanket), a large or regular sized stuffed animal or pillow the child could hold on to or hug. You want to make sure the animal or pillow does not have parts that can be ripped off and chewed on, thrown, or cause damage in another way. You’ll also want any other items to be soft and difficult to throw to protect the room or others in case your child does have a full tantrum.
The SOOTHING SOUNDS & SCENTS room
One thing that can work very well for some children, especially tantrums brought on by sounds, is a calming and soothing area. With this area you want to keep all outside sounds away from the room. Make sure no TVs are on, people aren’t walking or talking near it, and that it is mostly quiet before your child uses it. Once your child is in the soothing sounds room, you’ll need to have a place for them to relax or lay down. You can use a bed, a crash mat, or something else they can fall asleep on or even just sit with their eyes closed. Once you have this created, you can now to add in a soothing sound.
One thing that helps are meditation CDs. You can also try products like the Twilight Turtle which has soothing sounds and even includes a light show of constellations (which is perfect for the 3rd room, below). Noise blocking earmuffs and headphones make great additions for this room if your child needs to be removed from all noises. You can combine them with a scent or scented toy or stuffed animals to calm your child.
The VISUALLY CALMING room
This is easy to create for a bedroom. The thing to remember is to remove all bright colors and direct light points like a static night light that plugs into the wall. Instead, find something like the Tranquil Turtle above or even liquid motion lamps or soothing light projectors with calming colors and patterns. If the lights aren’t enough for them, you can also try adding black out curtains on the windows to block any sunlight coming in, or something else to make sure the only lights are the calming and soothing ones. The deep darkness will help to get the lights do a better job.
The most important thing when creating a calm-down room is to make sure it meets the needs of your child. You set it up to help their particular needs, and include features that are most effective for him or her. Don’t forget to exclude or remove anything that is easily thrown or could hurt your child or others or cause damage to your house.
–This article was provided by Ryan Novas on behalf of National Autism Resources.