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Tips and Tricks


Helping children with autism get out of defense mode can greatly contribute to their overall well-being and development. Here are some tips to support children with autism in transitioning out of defense mode:


Create a Structured Environment: Establish a predictable routine and structured environment for the child. This helps them feel more secure and reduces anxiety triggers. Use visual schedules, timers, and clear instructions to provide a sense of order.


Identify Triggers: Pay attention to the child's behavior and identify triggers that may cause them to go into defense mode. These triggers can be sensory, social, or environmental. Once you identify the triggers, work on minimizing or modifying them to reduce stress.


Provide Sensory Support: Sensory sensitivities can often lead to defense mode. Offer sensory accommodations such as ear defenders, weighted blankets, or fidget toys to help the child regulate their sensory experiences. Create calm and quiet spaces where they can retreat when overwhelmed.


Communication Strategies: Help the child develop effective communication skills to express their needs and emotions. Encourage the use of alternative communication methods such as visual supports, sign language, or augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. This can reduce frustration and prevent defense responses.


Use Visual Supports: Visual supports, such as visual schedules, social stories, and visual cues, can enhance understanding and reduce anxiety. Visual aids provide a concrete representation of expectations, which can help the child navigate daily activities more smoothly.


Teach Coping Strategies: Teach the child coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, and self-regulation strategies can help them regain control when feeling overwhelmed. Encourage them to identify their own calming strategies that work for them.


Social Skills Training: Provide opportunities for the child to develop social skills and build meaningful connections with peers. Engage them in activities that encourage turn-taking, sharing, and cooperative play. Social skills groups or therapy can also be beneficial. Encourage Special Interests: Support the child's special interests and provide opportunities for them to engage in activities they enjoy.


These interests can serve as a source of motivation and comfort, helping them feel more secure and engaged. Foster Understanding and Acceptance: Educate family members, teachers, and peers about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to foster understanding and acceptance. Encourage inclusive environments where the child feels supported and respected.


Seek Professional Support: Consult with professionals, such as occupational therapists, speech therapists, or behavioral therapists, who specialize in working with children with autism. They can provide individualized strategies and interventions based on the child's specific needs.


Remember, every child with autism is unique, so it's important to tailor your approach to their individual strengths, challenges, and preferences. Patience, empathy, and consistency are key when helping children with autism transition out of defense mode.

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