All children have times of anxiety, whether it’s fear of the monster under the bed, or worrying mommy might not return from the grocery store. Unfortunately, for most kids on the autism spectrum, their level of anxiety is high most of the day, every day.
Having learned the benefits of deep-breathing for myself, I have tried to get Dr. J to use it. No such luck. Then I heard a suggestion to have your child pretend she was blowing bubbles or blowing out a candle. That did work a bit.
Then the other day, a moment of genius. Actually, I guess I should say God gave me a moment of grace. Dr. J was extremely crabby and pouty. He would not stop yelling at Meatball to leave him alone, even times when Meatball was not even talking to him!
I took Dr. J into my room to try to help him calm, and maybe get a glimpse into why he was so crabby for the day. I told him, “Let’s blow out some birthday candles.” Of course he didn’t want to, and thought it was dumb. He laughed a bit, you know one of those irritated kind of laughs.
Then the moment. I FINALLY figured out a way to get Dr. J to participate in deep breathing:
Dr. J absolutely cannot stand to lose. I think a big part of it is from his literal autism spectrum mind–when you play a game, the goal is to win, so you simply MUST win. So, thanks to God’s kindness, the thought occurred to me, and I said, “See if you can blow longer than Mommy.”
Again, he kind of thought it was stupid at first, but that drive to win could not be tamped down long! He just HAD to beat me! Sometimes he giggled, too. And for a few minutes, he wasn’t crabby.
It took me two years to figure this out. Hmmm, I wonder what I’ll discover in 2013?
Do you have any calming techniques for kids that have worked for you? Please share so I don’t have to wait another two years!