5 Strategies for Calming a Child Mid-Meltdown

May 15, 2015 2 min read

All children have to learn how to appropriately respond to stimuli. But some children have much more trouble with this than others; although it’s not an official medical diagnosis, these children are often identified as having sensory processing disorders, or SPD. These disorders affect between 5% and 16% of all schoolchildren. Autistic children, too, often have trouble in this area, with more than 90% of children with autism spectrum disorders also having atypical sensory behaviors. Given that autism affects 3.5 million Americans, that’s quite a few children who will face sensory challenges.

If you’re a parent or caretaker for one of these children, you probably already know that they frequently have meltdowns when they get overstimulated. Here are five strategies you can use to try to ameliorate those meltdowns:

  1. Calm Yourself First, Then Respond

    Remember that a meltdown is not a tantrum; it’s a symptom, not misbehavior. That means it’s important that you take a moment to calm yourself first so you can move on to working to calm your child. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have trouble staying cool -- no matter how much you know about autism or SPD, meltdowns can be frustrating. Just keep trying new strategies until you find what is effective for you.

  2. Keep Directions Short and Sweet

    It may be tempting to try to talk your child through a meltdown, but that probably won’t help if sensory overload is the cause of the meltdown in the first place. Instead, try to keep your tone soft but your directions short and clear. This should help you navigate whatever space you’re currently in and quickly remove your child to a quieter one.

  3. Pull Out the Noise-Canceling Headphones

    Sometimes you just need to cut the amount of sensory stimulation your child is receiving. And if there’s no way to change the environment your child is in, then noise-canceling headphones can be extremely helpful. These are a particularly good idea if you have no choice but to go somewhere loud or crowded, such as an airplane.

  4. Create a Cozy, Private Space

    Especially if you’re someplace unfamiliar (staying with friends or family, for example), then having a pop-up tent to create a cozy and familiar space can help children focus in and regain control. You can always improvise by draping a sheet over some chairs or building a pillow fort, but a pop-up tent is an easy and portable solution.

  5. Try Weighted Sensory Blankets

    Many parents have found that weighted blankets for autism and SPD can help calm their children when a meltdown is in progress or even head meltdowns off before they occur. If your child also struggles with sleep disruption, common in people with both autism spectrum disorders and sensory processing problems, a weighted blanket can help there too; among the many benefits of a weighted blanket are falling asleep faster and staying asleep better. (It’s also worth noting that while we tend to talk about weighted blankets for kids in regard to autism and SPD, weighted blankets for autism are not limited in usefulness by age. Adults with these same disorders can benefit as well.)

  6. Have you thought about using weighted blankets for autism or SPD? Discuss in the comments.

Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed using: https://www.mosaicweightedblankets.com/blogs/articles.atom

Also in Articles

4 Reasons to Use a Weighted Sleep Mask
4 Reasons to Use a Weighted Sleep Mask

June 05, 2019 2 min read

We have all seen in the movies and television shows of people using sleep masks at bedtime. If you are like me, you probably thought they were just being a bit “extra” in their lifestyle. However, there is a science behind why sleep masks work and why people should regularly use them.
Read More
What Is An Anxiety Blanket?
What Is An Anxiety Blanket?

April 18, 2019 2 min read

What is an anxiety blanket? Is it the same as a weighted blanket? And how do they help people with anxiety?These are all good questions to ask.General anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in the US, it affects over 40 million adults and 4 million teenagers. General anxiety and anxiety disorders are highly treatable with [...]
Read More
Why Everyone Needs a Weighted Blanket
Why Everyone Needs a Weighted Blanket

March 09, 2019 14 min read

The Ultimate Guide to the Weighted Blanket From understanding and learning to making an informed purchasing decision, our weighted blanket guide has you covered. If you’ve not yet heard of a weighted blanket, you may be one of the remaining few. Surging in popularity over the last few years, the weighted blanket hit a peak of trendiness [...]
Read More