How to Help an Autistic Child with Anxiety
Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that 1 in 54 children received an autism and anxiety diagnosis last year. If you are the parent of a child with autism, you will likely already be familiar with your child having bouts of anxiety from time to time.
It is crucial to keep in mind that autistic children do not have temper tantrums for the same reasons as their companions. Usually, it will be because of some outside stimulus that is upsetting or scaring them.
As a parent, it can be stressful trying to calm your child. Since autism and anxiety often go hand-in-hand, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. This article offers some insight into natural remedies and calming techniques that will help you manage your child's anxiety.
Identify the Cause of Anxiety
The first step to helping your child manage anxiety and stay calm is pinpointing what is causing the issue. Whether obvious or not, there is some stressor leading to the tantrums and anxiety.
These aggravations come about due to an inability to communicate an emotion to the parent, teacher, or caregiver. The child could be frustrated, excited, or scared of something in the room or vicinity.
There are common sensory stimulants that can lead to anxiety, like:
- Loud noises and bangs
- Strong smells
- Changes in daily routines or activities
Because these stressors are so prevalent in autistic children, they should be easy to plan around. For instance, if you know you are going to an event that will include noises like fireworks or a lot of commotion, you should have an exit plan in place.
However, there are instances where you may not predict the level of anxiety it has on your child. Every child is different, so what makes one child anxious may not affect another.
In this instance, it can be hard to determine whether a social setting will trigger an anxiety attack. It is not healthy to completely avoid social settings or keep your child home from school.
They need a social life where they can make friends, and play with peers their age. The best thing you can do is recognize what situations your child does not like and be proactive.
Recognize the Signs
Along with noticing what causes anxiety, you will also want to know the signs of an oncoming bout of anxiety so you can manage them better. You know your child better than anyone else.
So, when they are getting anxious, take note of what signs they display before the tantrum gets into full swing. The advantage here is to acknowledge what is about to happen and to act ahead of time.
Some signs to watch out for are:
- Running away
- Head-slapping or banging
- Screaming or yelling
- Covering ears
- Covering eyes
- Compulsive actions
- Being aggressive toward others
Though there are other signs of an oncoming anxiety attack, these are the most common. When you see your child exhibiting these symptoms, employ calming techniques immediately.
Planning how to calm your child is key to managing autism and anxiety. There are several techniques you can have up your sleeve to help your child.
Have an Escape
Whether you are going to a party, school, or the playground, you should have an escape plan ready to go. Any area that includes high volumes of social activity can initiate anxiety. When you enter into that kind of environment, take note of where you can exit fast as possible.
To avoid further stress on your child, you will want to scoop them up and get them far away before the anxiety worsens. Along with the escape plan, you should tell others around you about your situation.
Let them know that you might have to make a quick exit. Everyone should be understanding and also help make the situation easier for you.
Have a Designated Safe Space
After you get away from the event or area, you will need a safe, quiet space to sit with your child. Since children with autism often react to sensory overload, it is best to eliminate noise and commotion so they can calm down.
The space you choose depends on where you are. However, think about sitting in your car or an adjacent room.
Carry Sensory Toys
Toys that get the child's mind off of their current situation will always come in handy. Several companies design toys specifically for children with autism.
These toys can include things like bean bags, squeeze balls, or hand putty. Anything that distracts their mind from loud noises and commotion and redirects it will work fine.
Have Weighted Blankets or Clothes
Look into purchasing a vest or blanket that has weights. Placing these items over your child will make them feel more secure in the moment. You can put the vest on when they start to act up or put them down for a nap and use the blanket. Before implementing this idea, be sure your child is okay with the heaviness over their bodies.
Implement Meditative Activities
Meditation doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out session like we often see. As long as it quiets the child's mind and soothes them, that's all that matters.
You can have the child close their eyes and take a series of deep breaths. However, other activities include things such as counting slowly to a specific number.
Get a Pet
Experts suggest that having an animal in the family can provide a calming effect for those with anxiety. If you think this could work well in your family, consider getting a pet as they may really help to soothe your child.
It doesn't have to be a cat or a dog, either. You could look into getting a soft, quiet animal like a rabbit or hamster.
Use Natural Remedies
Natural remedies can be a huge help in soothing anxiety in autistic children. A great place to start is to research the best vitamin B complex for your child. B vitamins are crucial for healthy nervous system function, energy production and digestion. Our B-complex provides B vitamins in biologically appropriate dosages, designed for stress and energy support.
It's also worthwhile to look for the best ashwagandha available. This is an ancient herb often used for medicinal purposes. Ashwagandha has been used widely to help to balance and strengthen the body, and support the nervous system, relieving fatigue, nervous exhaustion, and calming an agitated or stressed mind.
Ashwagandha has many health benefits such as:
- Supporting the nervous system
- Boosting the immune system
- Calming the mind
- Having anti-inflammatory properties
Known as the 'anti-stress mineral', another fantastic natural remedy for anxiety is magnesium. Magnesium is a great supplement for children suffering from anxiety because it helps to regulate the calming neurotransmitter, called GABA. It also helps to support the stress response system in the body. When the body is producing a lot of cortisol in fight or flight mode, it depletes the body of magnesium. Therefore, supplementation is very helpful in restoring a natural balance. You can great more about the role of magnesium in anxiety in this article.
Check out our Liqui-Mag formula here.
Natural Autism and Anxiety Products
Managing a child with autism and anxiety is a tough road for any parent or caregiver. There are many challenges when it comes to helping someone with sensory stress. The main thing to keep in mind is detecting when anxiety is about to hit and implementing a series of calming techniques.
At BrainChild, we offer a range of specific anti-anxiety formulas that are specifically designed to help autistic children reduce their anxiety. These solutions come in liquid form for optimal absorption.