Tips to Help Your Child with Autism Learn to Manage Emotions
Children with autism navigate best with a consistent routine, but of course, life happens and not everything can go according to plan sometimes. When a situation arises where your child has to face a change or an interruption to their routine, different emotions may come about. Madison Lee, Board Certified Behavior Analyst at Gateway Pediatric Therapy’s Livonia clinic, met with Metro Parent for an interview where she provides tips on how to help your child with autism learn to manage their emotions.
Because children with autism are often missing the ability to communicate and have social interactions, it can be difficult to obtain the skills to manage their emotions. “The area of the brain that regulates emotions doesn’t fully develop until the teen years or adulthood. If your child is having emotional outbursts, continuing to support them and teaching them in the moment will be very valuable to them.” says Madison.
Parents can help their child by working with them in the moment of an outburst to help regulate their emotions and learn coping skills. Maddison suggests to practice variations of deep breathing- asking your child to pretend they’re smelling a flower as they inhale, imagining they’re blowing on a pinwheel as they exhale, or even a method called “volcano breathing”, where parent and child can stand up, inhale with arms in the air, then exhale with downs down like lava flowing. Another coping strategy for younger children is to try a sensory activity, such as squeezing a stress ball or running their fingers through shaving cream or slime- doing so can “provide sensory input, require focus, and help regulate emotions” she says.
Madison shares that children who have coping strategies they use to regulate their emotions are more likely to have positive social interactions and more frequent interactions with peers. It’s important to engage with family members and your child’s ABA team to provide consistent support to your child so they continue to learn a valuable skill for life. Interruptions in routine happen, and we hope this article provides some insight on how to manage sudden change with more ease.