(Scroll to the bottom to get a free calm down cheat sheet to keep as a reference!)
When a child with sensory processing disorder throws a tantrum, it can be a doozy. When their brains don't know what to do with the sensory input coming at them, it will often trigger a fight or flight response. While the child often crosses the line behaviorally, it is practically impossible to address the state of their heart until they have been calmed from the sensory meltdown. We have found a calm down bin to be an excellent tool to bring our son the sensory input he craves when he feels out of control. Then and only then, to we discuss the aspects of his behavior that were unacceptable.
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My son if overly sensitive in his inner ear (vestibular) which effects his balance among other things. He's under sensitive when it comes to body awareness (proprioceptive). So he seeks out "heavy" work and and all things weighted. He loves firm pressure. He craves it.
And here's the good news, even if your child isn't deficient in proprioceptive input, ALL people find it calming.
Here's what we stock in our calm down basket.
Bubble Wrap (Large Bubbles) Here's another way to get those fingers working. We had to buy the larger bubbles for him to be able to do them. Loopy loves to focus all his energy on a singular bubble. SO helpful when he's flying off the handle.
Essential Oil Blend One of the top two most effective things in our calm down bin. Filled up a spray bottle with water and added a couple drops of this Essential Oil Blend. It has really surprised me. Even though I'm crazy about E.O.s, I was quite skeptical this would work. Loopy loves to spray it. I'm not sure if he just associates the smell with calming down or if it actually effects his nervous system. Either way, it works wonders!
My son has a very bad habit of chewing his fingers to get the sensory input he needs. His finger are often bloody from the biting. We have many chewy necklaces for him to focus his energy on.
Noise Reduction Headphones Often we've found that a meltdown is caused by fear of certain loud booming noises. Loopy's disposition completely changes when we put these on him. Great tool to have on hand!
The last thing in our sensory bin is a Sensory Brush. (See how to you it here.) Many people use these brushes in the midst of a tantrum. That doesn't work well for Loopy, but it is a nice activity once the panic has subsided to bring him back to his happy self.
Wanting to turn your home into a sensory haven? Check out our massive list of favorite sensory tools on the planet!
Do you have a calm down basket for your child? What helps them the most? Let me know in the comments!