Caleb's Calm Down Basket

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The number one reason we enrolled Caleb into school is the intensity of his routine needs and the meltdowns that followed when things didn't go the way he had planned in his brain.  It was too much intensity for me all day every day and he would get in these cycles that we just could not get him out of.

I don't love admitting that, but I guess it was reality for us.

As I'm learning more about Caleb and more about Autism Spectrum Disorders in general, I'm learning about things like sensory seeking vs. sensory avoiding behaviors.  This was actually a relief to read about because I could easily pin Caleb on this one.  Wanna venture a guess?


My general goal for Caleb has always been to a- improve his routines to help prevent meltdowns and b- find ways to help him regain control instead of getting stuck in a rut.  With this in mind I started looking around for things we could do at home (even before the whole school fiasco).  I found Martinanne's blog, Training Happy Hearts, and she offered a set of "I Can Calm Down" cards.  The entire set is different ideas for how to calm down such as Aromatherapy, Blowing bubbles, etc.  She doesn't have the cards on a server, but if you email her she will send them to you.

I downloaded and printed off the cards awhile ago but hadn't done anything with it.

Nothing like necessity to get things done, right?

So other than the cards, what is in Caleb's calm down basket?

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Mostly it is things to that go with the cards with a few extra accessories/additions for things I know will be helpful to Caleb.  Bubbles, some scented cotton balls in a bag, chapstick (not from the cards), lotion, fleece bean bag, suckers, 2 teething rings (1 wooden, 1 plastic- Caleb is very oral), a deck of yoga cards, and a deck of movement cards.  I will probably change the contents as I see more what he is choosing and what he is not choosing.

For now we are keeping the basket on the counter and he is asking for it if he needs a break (or I am suggesting if I think he needs one).  He has really taken to the idea and has been asking for it at times that I wouldn't have expected and responding well.  Today he asked for it right before he had to do math and did his entire assignment while sucking on a sucker and focused significantly better than normal.  (Math is not his favorite subject.)  I think it is interesting that he is using it as much for focus as calming down.

I also know it is working because he is not just taking a sucker every time (my concern with putting it in there in the first place).  During chores Kylee was pestering him and he took the basket and went outside and blew bubbles by himself and then came back inside and finished his job.

There are still things I am struggling with (mainly making sure to get a break for myself to be honest), but I think we are working our way through all of this a little bit at a time.  There have been really bad days in the last 3 weeks and there have been really good days.  I'm trying to stay really aware of what is and isn't working and changing the things that aren't working before they deteriorate too far.

This is just one piece, but I suspect it is going to be an important one for us.

2 comments :

Martianne said...

I love how you are using the cards. Might I use excerpts of this in a follow up post sometime at my blog? Let me know. Thanks! And so glad the cards spurned an idea that is helping Caleb!

Heidi said...

Absolutely feel free to use excerpts, links, whatever! We really appreciate these cards and they gave us a great starting point.

Now to put together a calm down basket for mom- so glad you posted about that too :)