Why Your Teenager with ASD Can Be Moody and Depressed

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How to Create a Sensory Safe Haven for Your Child

Every child deserves a safe haven. In many cases, this is not possible for children with sensory processing disorder (SPD). It's no secret that parenting is hard, and when you have a child who struggles with sensory sensitivities, it can be even more challenging.

They may find themselves overstimulated by the world around them and incapable of coping. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts in some cases. The solution? Create a sensory safe-haven!

Here are some tips on how to do just that!

Identify your child's sensory needs.

Every child is different. Some may need to be held, while others will require a darkened room with no noise. Without being able to identify your child's sensory needs, you cannot create their safe haven!

This can also help professionals who are working on treating the disorder as well. By identifying what works best for your children, therapists can find an effective treatment regimen that incorporates these factors into therapy sessions and activities at home!

Scents- Use scented cleaning supplies or aromatherapy candles throughout the house. 

Sounds- Keep white noise playing in every room of the house, so there is never silence and remember to remove unnecessary noise in the child's room. 

For example, if your children's air conditioner makes too much noise, replace it with a newer and cheaper window air conditioner with a lower decibel level. 

Touch- Have soft blankets available at all times for embracing but avoid things like scratchy, which might irritate them.

Lights- Keep lighting bright and avoid dark spaces or rooms that can be too dim. Remember to keep the lights on when they are sleeping at night! 

Hang up some curtains to create more privacy for your child.

Children with sensory disorders often struggle to communicate. This is especially true in cases of SPD where the child has difficulty communicating their needs and wants.

Hanging up some curtains can do wonders for your children's ability to feel more safe and secure while still allowing them a sense of independence.

Make your child's bedroom as calming and comfortable as possible.

This is where the magic will happen. Make sure to find a space in your home that your child can call their own. Don't forget about comfort! Having a sensory safe haven is pointless if your children can't feel comfortable in their own homes. 

You can let your child feel safe and secure by funding the space with an investment for kids. There are a number of these plans available on the market. Consider making the following alterations for a calmer space:    

-A calming color palette throughout the bedroom with lots of soft textures like blankets or pillows on the bed.        

-Scented candles for aromatherapy purposes since smells are so important when it comes to sensory processing disorder.     

-Removable dim lights are installed overhead every few feet around the walls.         

Soft music playing from speakers instead of earbuds or headphones causes tension for children with SPD.

Change the colors of the room to be soothing and relaxing at night. 

Children with sensory processing disorders often struggle to sleep, especially if the room is too bright or their bedding is itchy and uncomfortable.

It can also help your child get a better sense of how they are feeling in that moment which will be beneficial for therapy!

Make sure to have noise-canceling earphones on hand so when you need them most, such as when taking an airplane trip, they'll be there waiting for you.

Add a ceiling fan for white noise.

While it may not be apparent to you, this simple addition can help your child feel more secure and safe in their own space, making everyone happier!

Ensure that the blades are close enough together, so there is no risk of them getting their fingers stuck between the fans. 

This will ensure safety while also helping to create an atmosphere where they won't get distracted by outside sounds.         

Remember, safety first! If you aren't comfortable installing one yourself or don't know how to call a professional to do it right. 

This way, you can rest easy knowing your kids are as protected as possible against anything bad happening through the use of the fan.        

Put up shelves with books, toys, or other items that your child enjoys having on hand.

Having something to do will help the child feel safe and secure while also protecting them from boredom which can be dangerous when you are stuck in one place for too long!    

Make sure that whatever items your child is allowed access to have no small components or removable parts. If there's a choking hazard, it doesn't belong up high where they can reach it!          

While most children with sensory disorders benefit significantly from an ergonomic design, this is especially obvious when you're trying to create a special space just for them alone.

Ensure their bedding has large enough gaps between the fabric, so nothing feels uncomfortable against their skin. Every little thing plays into how comfortable they'll be in their sanctuary!

Invest in a humidifier to make the air feel less dry during cold winter months.

If the air feels thicker and more humid will make it easier for your child to breathe. It can be challenging in the winter months when there's less moisture.

If you don't have a fireplace or woodstove, try investing in a portable one so that you can easily place them wherever they are most comfortable!      

There may not seem like much, but these simple additions could drastically improve their quality of life, from having fewer meltdowns at home all year round to sleeping better through those long nights of illness.          

Another reason why keeping things as clean as possible around this age group is incredibly important is that children are beginning to crawl and explore their surroundings more on their own.

Something as simple as bumping into or rubbing up against an object covered in dirt can be dangerous if they touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after it.


Creating this safe haven for your children does not require much work at all but can make such a big difference in their lives! 

Let us know what works best for you, and we'd love to hear about any experiences you've had creating these havens for your kids.


Tics in Teenagers on the Autism Spectrum

"My son is 16 years old and has developed a severe tic. He shakes his head and moves his shoulder up and makes a grunting noise. This has only happened in the last few weeks. Could this be stress due to us having to move to another city in  few months [he will be changing schools]?? He is becoming extremely anxious about it as everyone notices it!"
ASD  (high-functioning autism) can have many complications such as tics. Tics are rapid sudden movements of muscles in your body, or tics can be sounds. Both kinds of tics are very hard to control and can be heard or seen by others. However, some tics are invisible (e.g., toe crunching or building up tension in your muscles).

Simple tics involve just one group of muscles and are usually short, sudden and brief movements (e.g., twitching the eyes or mouth movements). Some simple tics can be head shaking, eye blinking or lip biting. Simple vocal tics can be throat clearing, coughing or sniffing. 

Complex tics involve more than one muscle group and are longer movement, which seem more complex (e.g., jumping, hoping, touching people, hitting yourself or pulling clothes). Other complex vocal tics can be repeating words of others or yourself all the time, or repeating out loud what you have read.

Tics may increase as a result of negative emotions (e.g., stress, tiredness or anxiety), but positive emotions as well (e.g., excitement or anticipation). These emotions are often experienced in those diagnosed with ASD. Therefore, tics in kids and teens with autistic disorders can be more common. A strong urge can be felt before the tics appear. 
With intensive therapy, these urges can be suppressed. When tics or urges to have tics are suppressed, there can be a build-up of other tensions - or even stress. Often when the tic is gone, those who suffer from it feel a sense of relief.

Whenever kids with ASD focus their energy on something else (e.g., computer games or watching TV), their tics tend to decrease due to the resultant relaxation effect.

My 8 year old grandson with autism has several simple tics and a few complex ones. His tics appear mainly in his face and are very visible to others. He twitches his mouth and eyes all the time. He bites his lips in various ways so the skin around it is always red and irritated. 
Even though he feels the urge to do so, he seems unable to control the movements. He is in tic therapy for this, and as a grandfather, it is painful to see this expression of anxiety or stress in your own grandson.

Bottom line: Try not to worry about it too much. It will go away once the child grows older or is able to express his feelings in another way. Most kids with tics will be "tic free" sooner than later. 
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