Children on the Autism Spectrum often need to a place retreat to. This is a calm area where they can gather their thoughts with minimal sensory input or distraction. It is very important that at home and school that they are not sent to this area for misbehaviour e.g. In early childhood centres a quiet spot is NOT a naughty spot, at home the bedroom is not a naughty area, as then they will not want to use this as a retreat area or for sleep. This also can confuse the child into thinking that they are in trouble for being anxious and will create more anxiety in the child. Often they will not go to the area as they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.
6 Key Strategies for Creating a Calming Area at School and Home
- Create a specific area e.g. a partitioned area in a larger room, a tent, small room, egg chairs, etc.
- Give the area a special name.
- Use a visual cue to help them go there.
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Please note: Giving students computer time only keeps them in a holding pattern and it doesn’t calm them. You will find that they will have a meltdown when you try to get them to finish or they lose a game or the computer doesn’t work in the way they want it to. This shows that the computer has not reduced their anxiety.
Create a Wheel of Activities to do to Help Self- Regulate
You can call this wheel whatever name the student understands i.e. “Focus, Fidget, Calm, Coping, Listening, Sitting, Staying Awesome”.
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Wheel of Calm / Wheel of Focus
This is a wonderful way to reinforce the strategies you teach students through Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or self-regulation activities.