Sensory-Stimulation for Hyperactive Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"I need some strategies to help my daughter calm down. She has autism (high functioning) and ADHD and is wound tighter than a ten cent top most of the day. If I had her energy, I could probably fly to the moon and back by just flapping my arms."

Many children with ASD level 1 or High-Functioning Autism who are also hyperactive benefit from sensory stimulation. Providing a sensory room or area can be very effective. Be as creative as you can when providing sensory stimulation for your child.

There are many things you can purchase, but you can also make many things within your home. What you use should in part be determined by what your child enjoys or is seeking.

Some ideas are: 
  • A mini trampoline can provide physical exercise and sensory input.
  • Create a touch board, and attach a variety of materials, from sand paper, to carpet. 
  • Fill a tub with sand, navy beans, or other similar item that they can play in. 
  • Find different scents of potpourri that they can use for deep breathing. 
  • Foot massagers are great for waking up the feet.
  • Hang a swing from your ceiling, if it is reinforced. 
  • Have music playing that your child enjoys - this can be calming music or vigorous music. 
  • String blinking Christmas lights around the room. 
  • Use a hammock for the child to lay in and receive deep pressure.
  • Use a variety of lotions for both scent and touch.
  • Use a vibrating massager for deep touch.
  • Use play dough for touch activities.

The purpose of this room is to waken your child's senses and also calm her down. It is most effective to create a schedule of when your daughter will be provided free time in this room. It is probably not best to give her free access to her sensory area, as their will be other things that she needs to participate in. Also, use this area at transition times to provide a smooth transition from one activity to the next.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

Here's what other parents have had to say:

  • Anonymous said... A gluten free, dairy free diet changed my sons behavior so much!!! Also, no corn syrup or red dye 40. He has Aspergers with ADHD too.

• Anonymous said... Does she take any supplements? Whole foods has excellent supplements specifically for children with ADHD

• Anonymous said... Hi! I have a son who is 11 with ADHD and Aspergers. He's in constant motion, can't take stimulants to calm down, and I often find him spinning in place or somersaulting around just because he has no idea what to do with his energy! Sometimes a change in diet can help, but with most kids (not all) that's not the only solution. Studies in Europe have loosely linked food dyes with increased hyperactivity in kids with ADHD, so that's one possibility. There are some reports that omega-3 fish oil helps too. Weighted vests and heavy muscle-work can also help fatigue the body and slow down the kids, at least for a while. We were told to use the weighted vest (or some other weight/compression, like being sandwiched between two bean bag chairs) for 20 minutes, two or three times a day. For my son, running (using the Wii) or riding his bike outside for just ten minutes will help slow him down. Swimming every day, or every other day, seems to provide more long-lasting effects, over a couple of days. When all seems lost in a day, and he's really hyper and melting down, taking a bath or a shower does it for my son. One of the keys is to figure out what, exactly, calms your daughter down. My son is 11 so he can verbalize that warmth, water, and darkness (a hoodie over his head) calm his brain down. It's not a sure fix and somedays are better than others, but I'm grateful that we have this much! Good luck with your daughter and feel free to message me if you want to chat further.

• Anonymous said... How old is she? She sounds exactly like my daughter was a couple of years ago from toddlerhood. She's now nearly 14 and much calmer, although a lot of hyperactivity is is chatting nineteen to the dozen rather than climbing furniture. She has learned with her therapist to recognize whe she is wired and go to the trampoline or punchbag (both excellent safe ways of getting out the hyper energy) and also she reads (she's hyperlexic) and as long as she has the kindle and abundle of books she can stay still now on a bus or train or in a cafe) Also a gf/df diet keeps her calmer. We also use fish oils. Plus phenagan, an anit histimine, and her favourite DVDs at bedtime which can calm her down to stay still if not sleep.

• Anonymous said... My son is very hyper as well. In fact when school first started telling me he was autistic, I kept telling them "no, he is ADHD". There are similarities. At bedtime he is usually wired. 

•    Anonymous said...Aspergers and ADHD - same diagnosis as my son. But he's on Ritalin XR (extended release), so although he does have a lot of energy, he's not super-hyper either.

•    Anonymous said... I recently read an article about fermented cod liver oil and the benefits for kids with ASHD and Asperger's...Im going to look into it for my own son.

•    Anonymous said... I am diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and what helps me is go to a quiet room and breathe in and breathe out a couple times and count to 20 and do my favorite activitiy like for example read or word search book!

•    Anonymous said... We give our son Mega Red krill oil capsules for his Aniexty & Kroger brand Bone supplement for Hearinf sensitivity. I recently found Adult chewables of both at Walgreens. Bone support must contain Magnesium, Zinc & Calcium. Give daily we've noticed a Huge difference. He's not at jumpy, etc

•    Anonymous said... My son just starting doing cross country, middle school. He found on his own last summer he felt better when he runs. Now he runs some all day. Now, he is becoming part if the school team & finally feels as if he fits somewhere. I started noticing a difference after just a few days of camp but didn't want to say anything just yet. Then yesterday in the car on the way home from an unusually calm trip to the store, he calmly told me, "Mom, I feel really calm today". I think it is the release of energy with the combination of the outdoors. The team runs in a park with a lot of trails in the woods.

•    Anonymous said... You sound like you know yourself very well - That's a great thing! I hope my 6 year old starts to better understand that kind of thing - it Sure Works for him - but it will be a while for it to be more self-directed - he's only 6 ~~~ however - we're considering other natural supplements & lots more of the types of physical input that balances it.... I hope there will be more responses - I really gain a lot from threads like these - - - will read the linked article tonight!

•    Anonymous said... Both my boys have aspergers and all the other diagnosis that go along with it, we have so many calm down strategies because what works one day won't work the next. We are currently involved in a university study on the effects of green lipped muscle extract, one boy takes it and the other has the placebo and i can tell you it certainly has made a difference in the one that is taking it, not a miracle cure, but has certainly made his behaviour more tolerable by all around him

•    Anonymous said... I love all children especially children with Asperger's Syndrome ADHD and Down Syndrome and other disabilities! Nobody knows your better than you! You know what is best for your son and as he grows up more he will learn! :) Nobody knows your son better than you! Different things work for different children!

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