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Stuff That Works For Us

This is a list I will be adding to periodically whenever I think of something that helps us with tasks that can be a little challenging. While autism isn’t a one size fits all disorder for sure, you may read something here that you haven’t tried yet. I hope it helps. New ideas with be posted at the top. It should be noted that any of these may work for typical children as well. Good luck!

  • Clothes shopping with Bailey can be a complete nightmare, and it’s no longer because she’s so limited in the TYPES of clothes she’ll wear. I have long since figured that one out and I know what fabrics/cuts/styles to stay away from. It’s the store, which throws her into sensory overload, and she always heads straight to the dressing room to hide out. So this is my solution (until it no longer works)… we often get catalogs for her favorite store in the mail along with great coupons. When our budget allows or when the seasons change I give her the catalog and tell her to pick out a couple of outfits she likes. The next day or so when she’s at school I grab the catalog and my coupons and head to the store. It saves a lot of frustration on both our parts.
  • A Mind Jar (sometimes called a Calming Jar) is a great tool to help calm an overstimulated child. Bailey made one with her Brownies troop and also made them as gifts for her teachers, paras and counselors at school. You can use either a mason jar or an empty plastic bottle (we used 16 oz. mason jars with a quilted pattern as the gifts. They just looked nicer. The troop used empty drinking water bottles). Put about 2 tablespoons of FINE glitter in the jar, then about 1/3 of a container of Elmer’s clear gel glue and fill the remainder of the jar with hot, hot water. Add just a smidgen of food dye matching the glitter color you choose (too much and it’ll be too dark to enjoy the glitter swirling around), then super glue the lid on. The glitter should take approximately 5 minutes to settle once it’s cooled. Whenever your little one gets overstimulated or upset and needs a break just have him or her go to a quiet spot, shake the jar and watch the glitter swirl and then settle at the bottom. It has a great calming effect. Note: Works for grown ups too!012
  • A single person trampoline works WONDERS as a sensory outlet. I paid about $100 for one from Amazon and it was worth every single penny. A yoga ball is also a wonderful sensory tool. Bailey loves to sit and bounce or lie across the top on her stomach and use her hands to move around a little. You will probably want to supervise and make sure there is nothing closeby that your child will crash into.
  • When visiting doctors/dentists/orthodontists make sure to alert them to your child’s diagnosis. You may have to remind them each time you sign your child in, but keep doing it. Don’t rely solely on believing if it’s in the file they will know or review the file in its entirety before your visit. Alerting the ones who will be treating your child of his or her anxiety issues will help everyone involved.
  • Bailey has a very hard time with transitioning from one thing to another so we use a time timer or a simple kitchen timer whenever there has to be a firm time limit on what she’s doing. Somehow it is much easier for her to “get it” when the timer is used.
  • Visit There is a free downloadable guide with oral hygiene tips for children with ASD.
  • Educate yourself on your child’s diagnosis! While I haven’t found a great selection of books at the library, there are many great resources on Amazon. So far my favorite is 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching & Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s by Ellen Notbolm and Veronica Zysk. It’s educational but also is filled with great ideas to help you with day to day challenges.
  • Bailey is a hand flapper. When it’s necessary to keep her hands busy we use “fidgets” like Tangles, stress balls or those rubbery toys with rubbery spikes sticking out all over. and are great websites for these inexpensive items. Those rubber toys can usually be found in dollar bins at Target. Also when we go for a walk and she starts flapping I try to find her something delicate like a flower and give it to her to hold. It calms her hands down and usually her whole demeaner. She will hold it carefully and even start quietly singing.
  • Give you child a safe “simmer down” zone. Bailey has a space in her walk-in closet where her pillow pets and other big pillows are in a pile. She is sent there if she’s physically lashing out. She’s gotten to the point when even she recognizes when she needs time there to calm down and will go without prompting. There is also a box closeby that she decorated that holds items to help her calm down or focus (wooden beads and string, a Squiggle pad, a picture of loved ones, an ipod with soft music, etc).
  • I know it’s difficult, especially for those on a tight budget, but buy foods without artificial dyes, flavors, or preservatives as much as possible. Don’t forget the multivitamins and supplements. I give Bailey a children’s multivitamin from Trader Joe’s (comes in a bear shaped bottle) and Lil Critters Omega-3 DHA supplements. With the DHA I can really see an improvement in her focus. I know the jury is still out when it comes to artificial dyes and flavors that our kids eat but if you really stop and think about it, there is no way our bodies are meant to take in all these chemicals.
  • Going grocery shopping with Bailey is always a challenge for me and handing her a list and asking for her help doesn’t work for us. However, she absolutely loves telling me stories and they go on forever and ever. So to keep her next to me and not crashing into other shoppers while twirling around or walking while staring at all the squares on the floor I ask her to tell me a story and viola!
  • Bailey has quite a bit of difficulty with coordination when it comes to bathtime. I have found that using body wash on a loofah instead of on a washcloth makes bathing herself a lot easier. Washing her very long hair… that one we haven’t figured out yet.
  • Whenever her motor is high or she’s anxious I’ve found that putting on classical, Schnuffel Bunny or Phantom of the Opera helps to calm her down. Music can be a great tool you just have to figure out what is soothing to your child. Also, simply taking a walk outside can help.
  • Michael’s Craft Stores have little jars of sand in many colors. Let your child pick out his or her favorite colors and get an inexpensive underbed storage bin from Target or Wal-Mart to make a little indoor sandbox. Fill it with a few favorite toys. Bailey loves Littlest Pet Shop because she loves animals. It’s great sensory play for autistic children.
  • When Bailey’s motor is high and I need her to be calm I simply put Elmer’s glue on her hands and let it dry. Letting her peel it after it dries is also great sensory activity that keeps her busy for a little while and calms her down.
  • Lastly, as frustrating as it may be to sing that same song for the millionth night at bedtime, do it. Routines give them an unimaginable amount of security in the overwhelming world they live in. Every single night for years now I’ve sung “You Are My Sunshine” followed by “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (in that order mind you, switching it will only call for a do-over) and “All the Pretty Little Ponies” plays on repeat on her CD player. Also, I have learned the hard way that taking away bedtime songs as a consequence to undesirable behavior serves no purpose and does not teach a thing. Never take away something your child counts on to feel secure as punishment or consequence. Instead I would suggest taking away luxury item like computer time or TV time.

One response »

  1. i think this is wonderful! im going to follow your lead and read the book u have posted and look into the trampoline 🙂


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