Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Self-Regulation Techniques

Here are some techniques that Griffin's occupational therapist gave to us for Griffin to use in order to calm down and to avoid meltdowns and I find them to be very helpful and quite effective. One of my fellow bloggers had posted about an emergency meltdown kit and I thought that this might be useful to include in one because it has helped us so much. The best part is that there is only one thing necessary, the techniques only require the use of your child's own body in order to relax and calm down with the exception of the vest and social stories so they are free and can be performed anywhere.

1. Isometric exercises: Any kind of isometrics offer a lot of proprioceptive (muscle) input. Some examples are:
*pushing hands together (use cues "hands together, elbows up, push push push, relax)
*hooking fingers together (one arm palm down, the other palm up) and have child pull fingers apart while                                hooked together.
*giving child a bear hug while he/she tries to pull your arms away
*chair push-ups
*deep breathing

2. Here are two suggestions
*A good weighted vest from somewhere like Southpaw Enterprises or pressure vest
*also, social stories or cartoon strips on preferred behavior in public places has worked well with Griffin

3. Blow out five candles to teach deep breathing. To teach this, hold up your hand with five fingers spread. Blow on each finger, one at a time, as if blowing out birthday candles, drop each finger as the child "blows it out" one at a time until they are all five blown out. When the child learns this concept, you can simply say, "Blow out candles" and hold up your hand.

4. This one is especially effective for Griffin: have the child interlace fingers and lay hands on top of head and press down on top of head while sitting or standing and all the while taking deep breaths in and out. The pressure on the neck and spine is very relaxing. I do it with him and find it to be effective for me too!


 RELAXATION: A Comprehensive Manual for Adults, Children, and Children with Special Needs by Joseph R. Cautela and June Groden. It was recommended by a behavior special ist who works with children with autism.

The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Matthew McKay, PhD, and Elizabeth Robbins. It's available through

Sensory Comfort is having a "going out of business" sale so check them out, they do have books and assorted other sensory items.

I hope that you find these techniques useful in your own life. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.


jazzygal said...

Good advice indeed Lora! I like #4 too ;-0

xx Jazzy

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Have book marked, thanks Lora!

Jennifer C said...

4 does feel good and the hand together one I like too.

Chris P-M said...

We're still considering a weighted vest. The idea of placing hands on the head w/ interlocked fingers is a good idea!

We have lots of meltdowns here, so we're always looking for more good ideas. Thanks!

Arman Khodaei said...

This was a very good and interesting blog entry. I really liked it. I feel like a weighted vest would have helped me a lot when I was growing up.