How To Help A Child With Autism Calm Down

Now before too many people click on this article just to post their comments about how you shouldn’t calm down a child during a meltdown, or one doesn’t need interference in a normal outburst, I merely point out that the title refers to helping a child calm down, and not injure themselves.

A little background for this post tonight, well, today of course. Carter has had a bout of great days, maybe some aggravation here and there, but mostly really good. However, today of days was the perfect storm.

Carter has been getting headaches for a few months now, and as you can imagine it causes tremendous anxiety for us parents when a child with a history of a brain tumor starts having headaches. We have been to the pediatric neurologists, and have been following a plan that has made it much better for him, and reduced the headaches drastically, but today we started a change by reducing a little bit of screen time he gets throughout the day. The storm begins!

Well wouldn’t you know it, right when Carter got his time for TV and games, the power went out on base housing. For hours, and you all can imagine what this resulted in. Slinky from Toy Story went flying at the television in the living room, he threw the remote and broke it from his room, and screamed and screamed and screamed.

Of course you feel bad for the fella, he waited patiently throughout the day for his screen time, and he just didn’t understand why the power wouldn’t stay on for his turn. At the same time, we want to try and explain to him about expressing his feeling in a different way, at least other than turning toys and remote into throwing weapons.

So this gets us into the second part of the article, and some things we have learned throughout Carter’s life that helps him calm down during a tantrum.

(1) Distraction, as much as we can without making him more irritated that he already is. If I can get him to laugh, or interested in something else, he usually begins to calm down. He can still be screaming, but you can actually see the wheels moving in his head when you distract him with something else.

(2) Remove any dangerous objects within reach. Do you care about your TV and valuables, of course. This is mostly for the child though, as their safety is the most important thing.

(3) Noise cancelling headphones are great, and help out with sensory overload. Sometimes, there is just too much going on around Carter, and he needs to get in his own world. These also help when going to shows, games, and movies.

(4) Stay calm, and don’t add to the overload. Instead of thinking your child is being bad, think about them having an overload of senses and doesn’t understand what to do. I have experienced a similar experience when going through tough times on deployment, sometimes you just don’t know what to do, but cry.

(5) Always explain why your doing certain things. Even if your not getting a response or acknowledgment, always explain. As I am writing this article, Carter came out of his room from bedtime, walked up to Kelli and I, and said he was sorry for throwing the dog. This is five hours after everything is done and over with. We explained why what he did was wrong, hours later he went to bed, and just came out and said sorry. The minute you forget how intelligent your child is, is the minute you lost who your child really is.

These things have helped us drastically with Carter and our attempts at calming him down. We try very hard to ensure he doesn’t harm himself, and that he doesn’t make habits of screaming. There are many other things that can be added to the list, this is just ours and the little things we do to help him along the way.

Please comment below with your two cents. I really want the readers to get multiple perspectives. You don’t agree with what I put, let’s talk about it. I would love to hear your point of view. Healthy debate only makes us smarter, so let’s get it.

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