For children with autism, daily activities can be overwhelming. Emotions, social interactions, and struggles with communication can easily send a child into a state of overarousal. This might lead to anxiety, tantrums, or emotions that don’t align with the reality of a situation. Once they become overstimulated, it can be hard to calm a child on the autism spectrum to become calm. For parents, overarousal can be frustrating and overwhelming. Many parents don’t know how to help their children when they are stuck in a hyper-aroused state. Therapies like applied behavioral analysis can bring a mindful approach to helping children understand their emotions and break out of cyclical states of high arousal. If your child is struggling with hyper-arousal or you suspect a low arousal approach for autism can help, consider joining aba|tools today.
What Is Hyper-Arousal and Low Arousal?
Hyper-arousal occurs when the nervous system is overstimulated. For many, this can occur in a situation that causes a fight or flight response or with substances like caffeine. For children with autism, hyper-arousal can happen when children encounter stimuli in the outside world. Many children with autism struggle to understand and regulate their emotions as well as navigate the world around them. Autism also frequently causes fixation of emotional states, making a state of hyper-arousal more difficult to move out of.
Low-arousal is the opposite of hyper-arousal and indicates a calm and regulated nervous system. While our bodies are innately tuned to enter hyper-arousal when met with threats, children with autism may struggle to stay in states of low arousal or return to states of low arousal when their nervous system is activated. For those parenting a child with autism, minimal triggers such as a change in environment, loud noises, or change in routine cause an emotional reaction that seems drastic.
What Is the Low Arousal Approach
The low arousal approach is a type of autism behavioral management designed to help return a child to a state of low arousal. Geared to lower stress and help children avoid triggers, the low-arousal approach uses techniques like applied behavioral analysis in a preventative approach to hyper-arousal. For many, low arousal techniques include:
- Learning and avoiding specific behavioral triggers
- Implementing quiet time
- Keeping a consistent bedtime
- Using exercise to mitigate anxiety and process adrenalin
- Creating and sticking to daily routines.
- Focusing on mutual respect in the home
The low arousal approach focuses on forming habits that make children with autism feel safe. Change in routine can often be triggering and lead to outbursts. Using applied behavioral analysis for low arousal focuses on rewarding good behavior and ignoring outbursts. Often, when a child with autism has outbursts of anger and other emotions, there is both a root cause and a hyper-aroused state. By addressing the causes of arousal and emotions, parents and children can build a home that nurtures states of low arousal.
Use aba|tools to Supplement ABA
As a parent, it can be hard to cope with your child’s outbursts. Often, it can be even harder to know what to do in a moment of hyper-arousal and how to help your child return to a state of calm. If you are ready to try at home applied behavioral analysis to cultivate low arousal states, check out aba|tools. Developed by a BCBA, our program helps parents, children, and clinicians mitigate hyper-arousal. From the comfort of home, aba|tools uses ABA therapy’s low arousal approach to help children learn to manage their emotions. Begin ABA therapy from your phone or tablet today to help bring calm to your child’s nervous system. Find out more and register for aba|tools.