Stress can affect everyone, no matter the age or ability. It shows up differently from one person to the next, however, the pain and symptoms are real and unpleasant. So how do we help our children with special needs cope and handle the effects of stress in daily situations? Here are a few tips to teach our children and ourselves what to do when they feel anxious.
when they showed signs of stress. Squeezes were just me providing pressure to their arms, legs, shoulders, whole body, and even their head. If they responded with a “yes” to a squeeze, I would ask where. They would let me know (either through verbalization or pictures) where they wanted the squeeze. After a few minutes of this pressure, I would ask if they were all done or wanted more. Squeezes are a great way to calm the whole body.
when they are calm. A great relaxation technique to teach is yoga. My students in the classroom loved doing yoga together. We would look at a picture of the pose, talk about where the arms and legs go and give it a try. Once they were able to achieve these poses, new ones were added. We incorporated yoga into our daily schedule in order to prevent some unnecessary stress. Doing this type of exercise does not eliminate stress, but it can help a student to practice their breathing and teach them calming strategies they enjoy.
extreme stress, it is a good idea to have a space they can go to and be alone or away from the stressor. This could be a swing, a beanbag, a spot on the floor with a blanket, etc. This is a place a student can request to go to when they need to “escape” without running away. You can call it a calming spot, safe space, favorite place, whatever works for the child. When they are in their space, you can put on calming music, lower the lights, read a fun book, play with sensory toys, and give them 10-20 minutes of away time. This can often help the student to reset their brain and focus on other things.
Stress can be stressful but learning what works for your child or student is the key in managing the effects that stress has on their body. Biggest thing to remember is not to panic and use a calming, low tone when working through stress together.