Now that fall has arrived, students are back in class. IEP meetings and figuring out the most effective way to keep your child regulated and calm while they are at school are what this means for the parents of children with special needs.
A child can learn self-regulation with the help of a calm down kit, which is one of the best ways to teach this skill.
Your child can use a calm down kit whenever they need it while they are at school, even when they are feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
I am going to show you how to put together a special calm down kit for your child to use in school on those occasions when they are having a particularly difficult time.
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How To Make A Calm Down Kit
Children who suffer from anxiety, autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, and other conditions may benefit from using a calm down kit. These kits are also known as calm down boxes or a “break box.”
To tell you the truth, children with or without special needs can benefit greatly from utilizing calm down kits.
My son has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and is considered nonverbal because he is unable to communicate his wants and needs in an efficient manner.
He struggles with a wide variety of sensory issues and is easily overwhelmed.
This student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for this school year includes a calm down kit that can be used to redirect him during meltdowns and to help him self-regulate his own emotions.
There are a great many things that can be included in the “calm down kit” that you pack for your child to take to school.
However, I will say that a calm down kit (especially for children who have special needs) should be personalized to fit the child’s requirements, preferences, and areas of interest.
The following is a list of everything that I have packed away in my son’s emergency kit this year in the event that he has an outburst.
All of these things have been chosen specifically with my son’s preferences in mind.
However, many children will find the following sensory items calming, and they make the perfect addition to any calm down kit that is intended for the classroom!
What To Include In A Calm Down kit
This may seem like an odd choice when talking about how to make a clam down kit, but it’s effective for multiple reasons. A sensory sock is very portable and can be folded up to fit nicely inside a small calm down box.
Plus, it provides two sensory benefits to calm children:
- Proprioceptive Input- Deep pressure input on the joints
- Vestibular Input- Balance and motion
Weighted Lap Pad
A weighted lap pad is small enough to add to any calm down kit for the classroom.
Weighted products even as small as a lap pad are an incredible sensory tool for children to help…
-Provide deep pressure stimulation
-Refocus your child’s attention
If you would like to read more about the amazing benefits of weight products, then you have to read my article on The Benefits A Weighted Blanket Provides You!
A chair band is especially beneficial for children who like to move!
An anxious child will often move or want to “fidget” more when feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
Chair bands are a loop band (similar to loop exercise bands) that can be wrapped around the legs of a classroom chair.
This will allow your child to move their legs consistently and get out any bottled-up energy he or she may have.
They also help your child refocus on the classroom task in front of them to promote more concentration.
Fidget poppers are everywhere! And for good reason… They come in all shapes and sizes to interest any child.
Poppers let your child engage in a repetitive ‘popping’ motion to calm anxiety and sensory overstimulation.
Related Articles: 14 Must Have Sensory Toys For Children With Autism
Chewy Necklace/ Toys
Some children on the autism spectrum and those with Down Syndrome often have an oral sensory need.
Oral stimming necklaces or toys a great item to add to a calm down kit for the classroom because it can help calm children with oral sensory needs.
For more ideas for Oral Sensory Stimming Toys, READ THIS ARTICLE!
There are times when children become agitated or anxious for no other reason than the fact that they are hungry and in need of a snack to refuel both their body and their brain.
It can be especially difficult to determine whether or not a child with nonverbal autism or Down syndrome is upset because they are hungry when they do not communicate verbally.
Because of this, I think it would be helpful to include some of your children’s favorite snacks in their kit for calming down.
Because children like my son are unable to verbally communicate when they are hungry, it is imperative that he be given the opportunity to munch on something in order to avoid future outbursts in the classroom.
Here are some snack ideas to add:
A marble maze fidget toy is a way to refocus your child’s attention while enhancing fine motor skills.
To gain focus all your child needs to do is move the marble through the sewn cloth maze!
Noise-cancelling headphones are a must for children on the autism spectrum. I cannot state this enough!
A person typically has both an autism spectrum disorder and a sensory processing disorder at the same time.
Even though both of these things can exist independently, a significant number of children who have autism also have sensory needs.
Meltdowns in the sensory system can be triggered by a variety of stimuli, including sounds, textures, and even bright lights.
The process of elimination is a difficult obstacle to overcome when dealing with nonverbal autism and the sensory needs that accompany it.
It is necessary for you to determine, over the course of time, which sights, sounds, textures, and other stimuli your child seeks out or avoids.
My son is not permitted to wear noise-cancelling headphones while attending school.
It’s true that he could, but both he and his teachers would be miserable doing it!
When working with children on the autism spectrum, one of the most effective ways to use headphones is to have the child wear them before going into an environment that is sensory stimulating.
When my son eats breakfast or lunch in the cafeteria at school, he always brings his headphones with him.
This also includes going to the bathroom and changing pull-ups whenever they need to while they are at school.
My child is extremely frightened by the noise made by the hand dryers and the toilets when they flush.
Related Articles: 52 Heavy Work Activities For Sensory Seekers
Stress balls reduce stress and anxiety while helping your child redirect any anger or irritation he or she is feeling. Using a stress ball can release pent-up tension and improve concentration over time.
For children on the autism spectrum, it’s all about pictures! Pictures help bridge a communication gap between a child, a teacher, and a school task.
When PECS (picture exchange communication system) is used in the form of a visual schedule, it lowers the chance of meltdowns in children with autism who typically do not transition from task to task well.
If your child has autism, a visual schedule will allow your child to…
-Visible see what’s happening in their day
-Be a part of their everyday activities
-Pick and choose which activities they would like to do and when
-Have a consistent schedule to make transitions between tasks easier
Sunglasses are necessarily a must have item for how to make a calm down kit, but for some children they are highly beneficial.
Sunglasses give children with anxiety (especially social anxiety) a kind of invisibility cloak.
They can make a child feel less “seen” by other’s around them at school.
For children with autism, bright lights can be a sensory trigger! If you’re child reacts negatively to bright lights (rubbing his/her eyes, avoided full-sunlit areas, getting agitated when a bright light hits his/her eyes, etc.), then sunglasses are a must have for a calm down kit for the classroom.
A Social Story
Social stories are used for children with autism to teach them everyday concepts that do not come easily to them.
A social story about expressing their emotions positively, or a social story about how to calm down when upset is perfect for a calm down kit in the classroom.
Related Articles: How Have A Child With Autism Change My Life For The Better
Final Thoughts About How To Make A Calm Down Kit For The Classroom
You can purchase complete calm down kits or break boxes as a bundled set from various retailers on the internet.
However, while these are wonderful for children who don’t have any special requirements, I believe that children who do have special requirements require a calm down kit that is designed specifically for them.
You can solve a wide range of issues by providing your child with specialized sensory items that cater to their individual interests and requirements in this area.
You are satisfying their particular sensory needs, assisting him or her in learning how to regulate their own emotions, and preventing potential meltdowns that could occur when your child feels overwhelmed at school by using the kit.
I do not believe that it is possible to purchase a pre-made calm down kit that contains all of the necessary items.
Your child will treasure your homemade calm down kit much more if you fill it with carefully selected items from the sensory world.
Simply adhere to the instructions that have been provided above for how to make a calm down kit and give some of the sensory items that I have in my son’s a try!