How to Ease Anxiety in a Person with Autism/ASD
week, Sam asked a great question: if
I could give one single word that best describes what autism is or how it feels
to have autism, what would it be? That single word is anxiety.
This week, I
want to give you some techniques to use with people with autism to ease that
high anxiety level they suffer. And I do mean suffer. Anxiety comes at people
with autism from all levels: sensory, physically, imagined, perceived, misinterpreted,
spacial and, of course, communication.
anxious when they know and they are anxious when they don't know. They are
anxious when they see something is close and they are anxious when something is
not close enough. They are anxious when thing are not in order and they are
anxious if there is too much order. They are anxious if things are not timed
just right and they are anxious if changes are made. They are anxious when, and
when, and when... .
techniques, inventing strategies, and observing people with autism and how they
calm themselves has been a part of my life. My son, Doug, invented his man cave long before the term was coined
due to his need to sleep in total
darkness, and with only the white noise of a fan. His windows are sealed in
four layers: aluminum foil, black shower curtain, thick water heater
insulation, all covered with a nice curtain to please me. His door is backed
with a thick covering of insulation and he puts a floor snake down on the
inside when the door is shut so no light gets in. The only sound is that of the
rotating fan blades. Like many people with autism, Doug is not a good sleeper.
When a person with autism does
not get adequate sleep, undesirable behaviors rule the day.
Techniques for the SLP to ease
anxiety for people with autism:
Routine and schedule
- If you
are going to be in the classroom or pick the child up a particular time,
with autism are very focused on routines and schedules - time, to the
minute, is important to them.
- If a
schedule is going to change, let them know ahead and write it down for
Total body relaxation
your wiggles on when the child
comes into the classroom and shake each part of your bodies together.
is also a good starter.
Weighted lap or shoulder pads
weighted lap pad over the child's knees and thighs can be relaxing. This
can also be used on the child's shoulders.
using a weighted vest, always
have a nurse's assessment and parental approval.
music is often the most relaxing for children with autism because of its
- Ask the
child what music he/she likes.
- Keep it
soft and in the background.
- Dim the
lights in your therapy room and use a flashlight for calming and attention.
- I have
a dome light that shines the galaxy on the ceiling.
- One of
the most calming toys on the market.
reels that are motivating to a particular child.
Bean bag chair
bean bag chair cuddles around the child and provides deep pressure for
small, hand-held beanbag is also good to roll in the hand and ease tension.
out a book and reading soft and slow with very little eye contact and no
When anxiety becomes too high, undesirable
behaviors take command. The SLP can do something about it.
Autism is a puzzle. There's no
doubt about it.
Anxiety is a main part of that
What do you do to help ease
anxiety in a person with autism?
"Speech pathologists make good things happen."