Children with Autism find it difficult to constantly cope with the various sounds, sights and activities of the world. Their sensory threshold, or tolerance level is lower than the rest of us, and just going through a regular day can be very tiring for them. Watching TV, or going to a park may not be a relaxing activity, and in fact can increase stress levels. They often try to counteract these effects through self stimulation like rocking, or rituals and other stereotypical behaviors.
It is always suggested that we give children with autism time and space to be quiet, and calm themselves down, a few times a day. But this does not work so well in a small house, or a classroom. Here’s an idea that you can use. Make a small home within a home or classroom for your child with autism. You can use:
– A large cardboard box like a washing machine box.
– A play tent ( available in toy stores)
– A table covered with cloth on all sides
– A corner, made private with curtains or some furniture
Leave some comfortable quilts and pillows inside. Make sure the place is darker and quieter than the rest of the room. Allow the child with autism to go into that space for a few minutes or half an hour whenever he is finding it difficult to cope. You could also allow him to do some activities in his quiet space like reading or writing. Make sure that other children do not use that space, and do not disturb the child when he or she is there.
That’s all you need to create a refuge, a home, and a quiet place for your child with Autism. This space will help him be more relaxed at other times, and cope with difficult situations more easily. It may even help him learn better. However, you will need to slowly wean off this support as the child grows older, and replace this space with more socially accepted spaces, like a table and chair in the corner of the room, a rocking chair etc.
Have you done something like this? Do let me know about your ideas and how it worked.