Keep Your Child Safe: How to Calm an Autistic Child
It’s normal for someone with serious autism to have tantrums or nervous breakdowns when they are annoyed or stressed out. We have to be prepared to calm an autistic child to prevent them from hurting themselves or anyone around them.
How to Calm an Autistic Child During a Breakdown
During these fits, try to stay calm. The child may be confused or scared, and feeling lots of different negative feelings which is why yelling at them would be counterproductive and only make things worse. The child needs to know that everything is okay, and there is no reason to worry. Hugging him may be the best way to show this, but you have to be careful. In their fit they may lose control and act violently, but you should still try to hug them and limit the damage they do to themselves or others. They may try to get away at first, but they will soon calm down.
Sometimes the hugs and soothing words don’t work, and you’ll have to wait to calm the autistic child. To make it easier, you can try changing the environment and bring them to another room. Being alone may help calm them.
You have to be prepared for future breakdowns, so make sure there’s nothing dangerous within their reach. You may also need to always have a telephone handy, in case you need to call for someone to help. You may need to call someone to help hold the child if you can’t do it alone or call a specialist if you feel like you need extra assistance.
How to Prevent a Breakdown
Learn to pay attention to the details that suggest a breakdown is near and try to keep the child entertained so they keep their mind distracted with something else. Physical exercise may help keep them busy. They’ll engaged mentally and be able to let off some energy, which will make them feel less aggressive.
If a situation is particularly stressful for the child, remove them from the situation as soon as possible to avoid a breakdown.
Recording them during their breakdown may also be useful in the future. Show them the recording when the child is more calm so they can see their reactions with perspective and have the opportunity to reflect.
If the child is able to control their breakdown, or at least try to, you should give them positive reinforcement and reward their effort. Show them that you’re proud of them. Try to pay more attention to their positive behavior than negative behavior.
Understand the Causes of Breakdowns in Autistic Children
Autistic people are very sensitive to stimuli, which is why there are environments and activities that may be too intense for them, which may make them breakdown. You should also keep in mind that autistic people have a hard time expressing what they’re feeling, which produces more stress and makes it difficult to make friends.
An autistic person may also feel overwhelmed if they receive too much information at once, as they have problems processing it. You’ll have to give bits of information at a time so that they don’t get overwhelmed.
Breaking a routine may be very stressful because there are already established rules and expectations for everything. Unexpected things may upset them and make them feel insecure.
Our last suggestion is to intervene only if it’s necessary. You have to let the child be independent and do things for himself. If you intervene and do something that he should do himself, it may bother him and cause a breakdown. It’s better to let him do things for himself and only ask if he needs help.
Molly is a writer specialized in health and psychology. She is passionate about neuroscience and how the brain works, and is constantly looking for new content from interesting sources. Molly is happy to give or take advice, and is always working to educate and inspire.
This post is also available in: Spanish