Developing Self Calming

Using Breaks as a Tool

Sensory tools are great to be used during other activities, but sometimes students/children actually need a ‘break’ away from the group as an effective tool.

Break Cards (see examples below)

Remember sometimes when feeling anxious, children with ASD have difficulty communicating effectively, so this is why we use visual cards to request a break. You can use in two ways: 1. The student requests the break. 2. You give the student the card as you see anxiety/emotions/disengagement rising.

There are a range of strategies you can use for breaks and here are some to get you started:

Sensory Breaks

  • Chewing (allowing to chew gum, chewy tube, etc)
  • Quiet area
  • Listening to music
  • Watching liquid timer
  • Humming, rocking
  • Sit under a table with blanket over it
  • Carry heavy books, box
  • Lying under a gym mat, weighted vest, etc

Physical Breaks

  • Mini trampoline
  • Rolling on large exercise ball
  • Star jumps, jumping
  • Push up against wall
  • Walk, run

Relaxation Breaks

  • Counting
  • Breathing
  • Music
  • Imaginary world (some students escape into an imaginary world, this is particularly common for girls on the spectrum).

Break card


Five Key Steps to Developing Self-Calming Strategies

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