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How to Help an Autistic Child Calm Down

How to Help an Autistic Child Calm Down

Parenting a child with autism can bring both joy and challenges. One challenge you may face is helping your child calm down during overwhelming moments. It’s important to remember that each child with autism is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. However, there are some effective strategies you can try to help calm down your child.

Firstly, it’s important to remain calm and patient yourself. If you become overwhelmed or agitated, this may escalate your child’s emotions. Take a deep breath and try to stay composed.

One strategy that can help is creating a calm environment. This can mean finding a quiet room or a space that your child feels comfortable in. You can also try using calming tools such as weighted blankets, fidget toys, or noise-cancelling headphones.

Another helpful technique is engaging in sensory activities. This could include playing with playdough, taking a bath, or using a sensory bin with different textures. Sensory activities can help your child regulate their emotions and engage their senses in a positive way.

Remember, helping your child calm down may take time and practice. By using a combination of these strategies and remaining patient, you can create a more peaceful environment for both your child and yourself.

Understanding Autism and Meltdowns

If you have a child with autism, you know how challenging it can be to manage their behaviour when they are feeling overwhelmed. Autistic children can experience sensory overload, anxiety, and frustration, which can lead to meltdowns. These meltdowns can be difficult to handle, especially for parents who may feel helpless or unsure of how to respond.

It’s important to understand that meltdowns are not the same as tantrums. A tantrum is a behavioural outburst that is usually a result of a child not getting what they want. A meltdown is a reaction to feeling overwhelmed by their environment or emotions and is often beyond the child’s control.

As a parent or caregiver of an autistic child, it’s important to be prepared for meltdowns and have effective strategies in place to manage them. There are several ways you can support your child when they are experiencing a meltdown:

Stay calm and patient: Your child is looking to you for guidance, so it’s important to remain calm and patient during a meltdown. If you become upset or frustrated, it will only escalate the situation.

Provide a safe space: Create a safe and quiet space for your child to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed. This can be a calming corner or a designated sensory room with soothing lights and sounds.

Use a visual schedule: Autistic children often thrive on routine and structure. Using a visual schedule can help them understand what is happening next and feel more in control of their environment.

Offer sensory input: Sensory input can be calming for an autistic child. This can include weighted blankets, fidget toys, or calming scents like lavender.

Stay consistent: Consistency is key when managing behaviour in an autistic child. Stick to routines and rules to help your child feel secure and avoid triggering meltdowns.

Remember, managing meltdowns in autistic children can be a challenging but rewarding experience. With the right support and strategies in place, you can help your child regulate their emotions and develop coping skills that will benefit them throughout their life.

Creating a Calm Environment

Children with autism often struggle to regulate their emotions, which can be particularly challenging for both the child and their parents or caregivers. A calm environment can help the child feel more secure and better equipped to handle stressful situations. Here are some calming strategies for children with autism that you can try:

Calming Tool How It Helps
Sensory toys Provide a soothing outlet for the child’s sensory needs
Noise-cancelling headphones Muffle loud or overwhelming noises that could trigger anxiety
Visual schedules Help the child anticipate and understand what comes next in their routine

In addition to these tools, there are also other calming strategies for children with autism that you can use to create a serene atmosphere:

  • Use soft lighting and avoid fluorescent lights, which can be harsh on the eyes
  • Avoid clutter and keep the space tidy
  • Play calming music or background noise, such as white noise or nature sounds

Remember that every child with autism is unique, so it’s important to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for your child. With patience and persistence, you can help your child feel more at ease in their environment.

Sensory Activities for Calming an Autistic Child

Autistic children can become easily overwhelmed by sensory input, and sensory activities can be an effective tool for helping them to regulate their emotions. Here are some sensory activities that you can try to help calm your autistic child:

Activity Description
Deep pressure Applying deep pressure to the body can be calming for some autistic children. You can try using a weighted blanket or a compression vest.
Oral stimulation Sucking on a straw or chewing on gum can be calming for some autistic children by providing oral stimulation. Make sure to supervise the child during these activities to prevent choking.
Visual stimulation Providing visual stimulation, such as looking at a lava lamp or watching fish in an aquarium, can be calming for some autistic children.
Sound stimulation Playing calming music or white noise can help to drown out overwhelming sounds and create a calming environment.

It’s important to note that not all sensory activities will work for every autistic child, and it may take some trial and error to find what works best for your child. Additionally, some children may have sensory sensitivities or aversions, so it’s important to be aware of your child’s individual needs and preferences.

Sensory Activities to Avoid

While sensory activities can be beneficial for many autistic children, there are some activities that should be avoided as they may be overstimulating or potentially harmful. These include:

  • Bright, flashing lights
  • Strong smells
  • Activities that involve spinning or rapid movement
  • Activities that involve water without proper supervision

When selecting sensory activities, it’s important to consider the individual needs and preferences of your child and to always prioritize their safety and well-being.

Teaching Relaxation Techniques

You can empower your autistic child to manage their own emotions by teaching relaxation techniques that can be practiced at home or in therapy sessions. These techniques can help calm the mind and promote relaxation, which can be particularly beneficial during moments of distress.

One effective relaxation technique is deep breathing. Encourage your child to take deep breaths, filling their lungs with air and exhaling slowly. You may also want to try progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and releasing individual muscle groups to promote relaxation throughout the body.

Another helpful technique is guided imagery. This involves imagining a peaceful scene or place that your child finds calming, such as a beach or forest. Encourage your child to visualize the scene in as much detail as possible, using all their senses to create a vivid mental image.

Aromatherapy can also be used to promote relaxation. Certain scents, such as lavender or chamomile, are known to have calming properties. You can diffuse essential oils or use scented candles or sprays to create a soothing atmosphere at home.

Remember to be patient and encouraging when teaching relaxation techniques. It may take time for your child to learn and feel comfortable with these strategies, but with practice, they can become an effective tool for managing emotions.

Effective Communication

As a parent or caregiver of an autistic child, you may sometimes struggle to communicate with your child during moments of distress. However, effective communication is crucial in understanding your child’s needs and helping them calm down.

Firstly, it’s important to remain calm and patient when communicating with your child. Avoid using a loud or angry tone, as this can escalate the situation. Instead, speak in a calm and reassuring voice and use simple, clear language that your child can understand.

It’s also important to pay attention to your child’s nonverbal cues. Autistic children may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally, so they may communicate their emotions through gestures, facial expressions, or body language. By paying attention to these cues, you can get a better understanding of what your child is feeling and respond in an appropriate manner.

Additionally, it’s important to give your child time to process their emotions and express themselves. Encourage them to communicate with you, but avoid pushing them to talk if they’re not ready. This can help your child feel more comfortable and supported.

Finally, be open to alternative forms of communication, such as visual aids or sign language, if your child struggles with verbal communication. This can help facilitate better understanding and communication between you and your child.

In summary, effective communication is key to understanding and supporting your autistic child during moments of distress. By remaining calm and patient, paying attention to nonverbal cues, giving your child time to process their emotions, and being open to alternative forms of communication, you can better support your child’s emotional well-being.

Developing a Calming Routine

Establishing a calming routine is essential for helping an autistic child regulate their emotions, especially during moments of distress. Here are some tips for creating a structured routine:

  1. Develop a consistent schedule that includes designated times for relaxing activities such as reading, drawing, or listening to music.
  2. Create a quiet space in your home where your child can retreat when feeling overwhelmed. This could be a designated sensory room or simply a designated corner with comfortable seating.
  3. Use visual aids such as a picture schedule or visual timer to help your child understand and anticipate the routine.
  4. Incorporate sensory activities such as deep pressure massages or aromatherapy to promote relaxation.
  5. Offer choices within the routine to give your child a sense of control. For example, let them choose between two calming activities or decide on the order of their routine.
  6. Stick to the routine as much as possible, but be flexible when necessary. Life is unpredictable, and unexpected events may disrupt the routine. In such cases, help your child adjust and offer alternative calming strategies.

Remember, developing a calming routine takes time and patience. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your child. Be persistent and offer positive reinforcement when your child successfully follows the routine.

By incorporating these calming strategies into your child’s routine, you can help them feel more secure and better equipped to handle stressful situations.


Caring for an autistic child can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can help them manage their emotions and feel more at ease. By creating a calm environment, engaging in sensory activities, teaching relaxation techniques, and fostering effective communication, you can provide the support your child needs to thrive.

Remember, every autistic child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. But by remaining patient, flexible, and attuned to your child’s needs, you can help them develop the skills and coping mechanisms they need for a happier, healthier life.

So if you’re wondering how to help an autistic child calm down, know that you’re not alone. With the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can provide your child with the care and support they need to navigate the world around them with confidence and ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I help my autistic child calm down?

There are several effective strategies you can use to help calm down your autistic child. These include creating a calm environment, engaging in sensory activities, teaching relaxation techniques, and fostering effective communication.

What are meltdowns and how do they relate to autism?

Meltdowns are intense reactions that autistic individuals may experience when they are overwhelmed. Understanding autism and the triggers for meltdowns can help parents and caregivers better support their child.

What can I do to create a calm environment for my autistic child?

Creating a calming environment involves using techniques and tools to create a soothing atmosphere at home or in other settings. This can include adjusting lighting, minimizing noise, and providing comforting sensory experiences.

How can sensory activities help calm down an autistic child?

Sensory activities can engage your child’s senses and help them relax. These activities can include playing with sensory toys, engaging in calming movements, or providing sensory input through touch, sight, sound, or smell.

What are some relaxation techniques I can teach my autistic child?

Teaching relaxation techniques to your autistic child can empower them to actively participate in managing their own emotions. Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can be easily taught and practiced at home.

How can I effectively communicate with my autistic child during distressing moments?

Effective communication is crucial during moments of distress. It’s important to provide clear and concise instructions, use visual supports if needed, and validate your child’s feelings. Providing reassurance and using calming language can also help your child feel understood and supported.

How can I develop a calming routine for my autistic child?

Establishing a calming routine can provide structure and security for your autistic child. This routine can include activities such as deep breathing exercises, engaging in sensory play, or engaging in calming hobbies or interests.

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