My 7 year old son is on the autism spectrum. He was diagnosed with high-functioning autism when he was 4.
Children on the spectrum can often experience life as an overwhelming barrage of stimuli. Things you and I would not even notice are sometimes almost painful to an autistic child. Flickering fluorescent lights, a fly in the room, or even the sound of music.
When a child with sensory issues is overloaded with “information” from the world around them, it can result in a meltdown.
Emotional regulation is hard for spectrum kids as well as kids with sensory issues—and that’s where these fantastic “calm down jars” come in.
MamaOT sums up how the bottles work with the following insight:
“If a child is so upset she cannot be consoled or engaged in other calming activities (like she doesn’t want to be touched, hugged, or talked to), these Calm Down Bottles can serve as a visual “anchor” in order to bring her focus into one place when it may feel like her world is spinning out of control. She can shake the bottle as hard as she wants (so don’t use a glass bottle), and this provides calming proprioceptive input to her body while also serving as a physical outlet that is less destructive than hitting or kicking. While she holds the bottle and watches the glitter fall, her hands and eyes are brought to midline and this can help organize and center her nervous system as well. And as her heart pounds and she demonstrates fast, shallow breathing from being so upset, the slow fall of the shaken glitter can serve as a visual model that, often unconsciously, can slow her heart rate and respiration.”
So enough with the lecture and bring on the calm!
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