Children with ASD often become dysregulated, both physically and emotionally, when they feel overstimulated by things like noise, clutter or demands to move too quickly from one activity to another. But, because each child is unique, parents need to be detectives, figuring out what will help their child become regulated and able to focus on what is important.
As occupational therapist Kate Biederman describes in this Mom Enough episode, some children respond well to deep touch, while others find that aversive. Many children feel calm after they engage in what Kate calls “heavy work,” which includes climbing on a jungle gym or jumping on a mini-trampoline. While noise can be dysregulating, music with certain rhythms can be regulating and organizing. An uncluttered home environment and an unhurried schedule can help almost any child be calmer and more focused. As adults and children discover together what works, children ideally can build the self-awareness and independence to do what’s necessary when they begin to feel dysregulated. As Marti & Erin attest, it’s not only people with ASD who need to develop self-awareness and effective regulation. In our busy, noisy, fast-paced lives, these skills matter to all of us!
Reflect on the last few days and times when you or one of your children became dysregulated (feeling agitated, unfocused, not sure what to do next). What led to that? What strategies did you use to reestablish regulation and focus? How did that work? What else could you try next time?
For our show on What Parents Can Do to Support Optimal Development of a Child with ASD, click here.
For a list of autism book & website resources, click here.
For information on the Greenspan Floortime Conference, click here.
To learn more about Autism Support Services at St. David’s Center, click here.