I came across this document I wrote a couple of years ago to hand out to teachers within a program I was consulting with. Simple, easy techniques to aid with sensory meltdowns (with a couple things added that I’ve learned since I first wrote the document). So simple but so good, that I thought I should share.
- First, remember to provide regular and consistent sensory input throughout your child’s day. This is the key to preventing sensory meltdowns. Remember to be preventative.
- Deep breaths. They’re feeding off your energy so try to remain calm (easier said than done at times, I know). Also, they will begin to mimic your breathing which will hopefully shorten the meltdown. If they are very far gone into the meltdown try breathing in a pattern that consists of two sharp inhales, and one long exhale (it’s the same pattern you would use if you just got done with a really good crying fest). And then go to deep inhales & exhales.
- Sensory input that seems to calm when your child is in a good place, is not necessarily going to work when your child is already in meltdown mode.
- Sensory input during the day should be functional. However, sensory input during a meltdown is most likely not going to be functional.
- Lower your voice to a whisper. Do not try to talk over the yelling or crying.
- Limit your words. Your child is now operating from a place of “fight or flight”. He is not able to process language. The more language you throw at him, the more confused and elevated he will most likely become.
- Did you know the sense of smell is the only one to go directly to the limbic system? Where our emotions and our “fight or flight” response is stored. Try using a calming scent (another reason I’m loving my essential oils!).
- Adjust the environment whenever possible. Lower lights, remove distractions, play soft music, allow a safe place to crash in or burrow under.
- Deep pressure is often calming. Wrap your hands around your child’s arm and squeeze to the count of ten in a strong but loving embrace. Make your way up each arm and each leg, NOT doing it on top of their joints.
- BUT if your child does not want to be touched, give them some space.
- If they do allow touch, try holding points on the body that are recognized to bring energy down: on the inside of their knees, the bottom of their feet on the arch, lightly on the ridge by the occipital lobe (lower, back skull), or lightly on their positive points located on their forehead.
- Don’t get discouraged. What works for one kid, doesn’t necessarily work for another. What works for one meltdown, doesn’t necessarily work for the next one.
What works for you and your family?