As a parent of a child with autism, tackling overwhelming behaviours in public may seem impossible. However, with these tips, you can overcome these behaviours. Here are some managing Autism sensory overload tips.
Being a parent comes with unique rewards and challenges, especially if your child was recently diagnosed with autism. While their condition may pose a few hiccups along the parenting journey, watching them grow into their unique selves is always wonderful.
One challenge many parents face is helping their children cope with sensory overload in public spaces. While stimming in a public environment isn’t an issue, knowing what to do when your child is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or displaying problematic behaviours is important.
Give your child the support they need and explore ways to manage sensory overload during overwhelming stimuli experiences. Understanding these behaviours and their triggers can empower you as a parent and support your child during these tough moments.
Plan and Prepare for Outings
Before heading out, familiarize your child with the expected environment by showing pictures or videos of where you plan to visit. This visual connection will help reduce anxiety and ease your child into new surroundings. Consider creating a sensory toolkit with items such as fidget toys, headphones, or a weighted blanket to help your child manage sensory responses while away from home.
Understand and Recognize Stimming
Stimming is a self-stimulatory behaviour that many individuals with autism engage in to self-regulate, self-soothe, or express emotions. Typical examples include hand flapping, rocking, or repeating phrases. Learn to recognize your child’s unique stimming behaviours and provide a safe space for them to stim in public, as this can help manage sensory overload.
Use ABA Strategies To Build Coping Skills
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a well-established, effective therapy that can help children with autism develop coping skills. Taking the methods and techniques they learned outside of a centre-based environment can further their development and help them cope with overstimulating situations. ABA methods can also help you both identify triggers and develop self-calming strategies to mitigate sensory overload. Consult an ABA professional to discuss sensory strategies tailored to your child’s needs.
Communicate With Others About Your Child’s Needs
You’re not alone—it takes a village to raise children, and there’s always someone willing to help. Educate teachers, caregivers, and other adults about your child’s sensory issues and how they may respond to overwhelming stimuli. Open communication enables you to understand your child’s needs and make room for your child’s comfort and success in various settings.
Validate and Empathize With Your Child
One of the best ways to support your child is to hear them out. Ensure your child feels supported and understood. Address their feelings, help them articulate their emotions, and validate their sensory experiences. Empathy goes a long way in building resilience and confidence in managing future overwhelming situations.
Tackling sensory overload can be tough, but with the right tools, understanding, and support, you and your child can overcome these challenges. Use these tips to help manage your child’s sensory overload in public and other new environments. Empower yourself and your child by using these tips and embracing the beauty of your child’s uniqueness.