Many children with Autism become very irritable on a regular basis. This is due to many factors including difficulty communicating their desires and experiencing physical pain. This irritability can be a real challenge for parents, who long to see their child smiling and happy. The following are some strategies I have used over the years in dealing with my autism spectrum child:
Give Them a Bath
If the child is young and irritable it is often helpful to give them a soothing bath. Naturally, this does not apply to all children with Autism as some hate baths: it is an individual thing. If the child enjoys baths it can be a soothing and calming thing to do that can change their mood for the better. Often, when they get out of the bath they are laughing and playing more happily than when they went in.
Drive in the Car
For a very young Autism Spectrum child it can be helpful to take them for rides in the car. This is precisely what I did with my son and it worked many times. My son would become calm by looking out the car window and even fall asleep at times.
Stay Calm Yourself
It can be quite a challenge as a parent to stay calm yourself when your child is having a tantrum or upset. Many children with Autism have what parents describe as “meltdowns.” It is very important to have strategies to allow you to stay calm yourself in the face of these tantrums. During the time when the child is not having these tantrums is the time to practice the calm behavior for yourself. There are many strategies for parents to develop robust stress management. Some of these include yoga, meditation, prayer, developing friendships, exercise and getting out more.
Put on Music
It is a good idea to put on some soothing music for an anxious child. It is best to play this softly as many children with Autism are sound sensitive. My son likes headphones but not all do. Take note of what the child likes beforehand.
Sometimes when children with Autism have meltdowns, it is because they are in physical pain. They cannot always adequately explain or describe what is wrong. Discuss with your doctor if your child could be in some kind of pain like dental, headache, stomach or other. Do not dismiss the tantrum outright as just behavioral- maybe it is behavioral but maybe it is physical problems that are hurting the child and the child cannot express it.
The above are some strategies to deal with your Autism Spectrum child when they are irritable. The main thing is to stay calm yourself and try to determine what is causing the problem. Many times, this is a process of elimination situation but keep at it until you determine the cause of the irritability. The above strategies helped me many times when my Autistic son was irritable.