In the movies we all see the strategies of taking a deep breath and counting to ten, so what are some other strategies we can use to help ourselves and others calm down in stressful or anxious situations?
Sometimes, before we can identify and discuss a problem, we need to calm down first. Here are some strategies that you can use to help prevent an anxious situation in the first place:
- Discuss transitions before they happen, events before you attend, any changes in schedule/life, expectations, etc. State things one step at a time. Do not overwhelm your child with words. Visuals and social stories may help as well.
- Visualize situations before they happen.
- Answer any questions a child may have about a situation.
- Discuss any vocabulary related to a new topic when needed.
- Visit new teachers/doctors/dentists/etc. prior to their first visit so the child can get to know the new person and their job.
- Visualize a calm environment
- Perform a sensory activity to help the student take his or her mind off of things (jumping jacks, bouncing on a trampoline, etc.)
- Go to a calm environment (bean bag, quiet area/nook, tent, chair, etc.)
- Do some stretches/yoga or go for a walk
- Read a book
- Take a break
- Talk out the situation
- Draw a picture
- Listen to calming music
- Count to 3, 5, or 10 (depending on the age of the student and how fast they are trying to count)
- Take a deep breath
- Close eyes
Another website that has some great visuals for calming down is the UK based website Twinkl. On this website, there are many educational visuals for teachers of special needs including some related to calming down. Below is a preview of a couple of their free printables:
A great website/company owned by a speech-language pathologist (Angela Moorad, M.A. CCC-SLP) who is also a trained Yoga instructor is OMazing Kids. On her website, she has a great list of DVDs, books, and music for wellness, mindfulness, and relaxation.
Finally, here are some applications that can be used to help a student with anxiety, transitions, and calming down:
Model Me Going Places, Social Adventures, Sosh, I Create...Social Skills Stories, My DPS, Anger Thermometer, The Shredder, Autism 5-Point Scale EP, Taming the Anger Monster, Anger, Angry Octopus, Emotions and Feelings Social Story, The Grouchies, Calm Counter - Anger Management Tool and Social Story for Autism, Down Syndrome, and Special Needs, First Then Visual Schedule, First-Then Board, Visual Schedule, iPrompts, My Video Schedule, Choiceworks, Visual Schedule Planner, Luca Lashes apps, Time Timer, MeMoves, Uzu, Pocket Pond, White Noise, EASe Pro Listening Therapy, Breathe2Relax, Noise Room, Sensory Play, and Relaxing Sounds of Nature.
Here's a final message for you to keep in mind as we get back into the school year: