How I (Try) To Avoid Triggers in Our Autism World

Written By: Green Crunchy Mother

Affiliate Disclosure: This post does not contain any affiliate marketing links. The links used in this post are for information purposes only, I am not making a profit.

Girl Wearing Black Jacket and Gray Shirt With Open Mouth during Daytime

I am about to get very real and honest in this post, people often ask me: “How do you avoid the triggers, how do you stop a meltdown from happening with your children”? I have only one answer, I can’t. All I can do is keep a list of strategies in my pocket and hope that they will reduce the negative behaviors when required.

This is not the answer that you wanted to hear, I know. Instead I will share with my own personal life experience and strategies that I use with my own children.

This post does not promise that I have a magic solution that you will never experience a meltdown with your child. Instead, I provide you with some options. Real, viable options that can help reduce the undesired behaviors that autism can bring.

Autism can bring on some serious meltdowns for no obvious reason. Here are just a few examples.Transitions, change in temperature, sensation of clothing, being overtired, thirst, hunger, and too much noise and light.

I have to plan every outing with my children with much care and caution. I need to evaluate every possible trigger that an outing can bring on and be well prepared.

Five Strategies That I use To Help Reduce the Triggers In the Home And During Outings

Exercise

Exercise is very important for my children. Keeping them active helps significantly with their regulation. They have even expressed to me that “exercise makes my brain feel better”. Before an outing, I always make sure they have had plenty of physical activity.

If I observe they are getting restless in the home, I have them engage in some type of exercise. The outdoor trampoline is a wonderful activity for regulation. Jumping jacks also relieve a lot of tension for my children.

Being Well rested

Being well rested is a huge factor I assess before an outing. If I know that my children are tired before an outing, the situation will most likely deteriorate. As a general rule, if my children are exhausted, I will put off the outing until they are well rested.

Should restlessness occur in the home, I have crossword puzzles, books, coloring books, and paints placed all around the house. I call these “work stations”.

Sensory Triggers

Before an outing I need to evaluate my children’s sensory needs. My checklist generally consists of the following:

  • Are the children wearing comfortable clothing? Uncomfortable clothing, from my own personal experience can easily trigger a meltdown with my children.
  • Will the outing consist of too much noise and lighting? If the answer is yes, I prepare for an exit plan if required. If we are with another family on the outing, I advise them ahead of time that we may need to leave earlier than planned.

If we have no where to go, my children generally remain in their pajamas. It is all about picking your battles, right?

Hunger and Thirst

I always make sure the children are well fed before an outing. Hunger or thirst can easily trigger a meltdown with my boys. I also pack healthy snacks and water bottles on our outings.

At home, I keep fresh fruits, raw vegetables, and other healthy snacks that are readily available to my children.

The Zones of Regulation

The zones of regulation has been a game changer for our family. My children function very well (generally) when implementing the zones of regulations.

What are the zones of regulation? Briefly, the Zones method uses four colors (green, blue, yellow, red) to help identify feelings in the moment. Each Zone has strategies that can be implemented to help with regulation.

I have taught my children to identify their emotions in this color coded fashion, and strategies to use depending on the zone that they are in.
To read more on the Zones of Regulation in detail, you can visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Thinking

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_self-regulation

https://www.simcoe.ca/ChildrenandCommunityServices/Documents/Early%20Intervention/Zones%20of%20Regulation.pdf

Unfortunately, life can not always be perfect and go as planned. Using the mentioned strategies has brought back some quality of life for our family.

What successful strategies are you using to help reduce triggers and meltdowns? Please share your best strategies with my readers.

Affiliate Disclosure: This post does not contain any affiliate marketing links. The links used in this post are for information purposes only, I am not making a profit.

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