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Autism news: This simple technique can often stop a meltdown... Behavior Problems Part 7
February 19, 2020

I know that helpless feeling of wondering what to do when my child is having a meltdown. In a situation like that, having a number of techniques for calming him down has made all the difference.

In my last message I referred you to a list of common kitchen items that could help to calm down an agitated child. If you haven’t already seen that, you can find that information at the link to my archive of past messages at the end of this email. That message was entitled, “How to Halt a Behavior Incident… Behavior Problems Part 3.”

Lately, I happened to remember a certain technique that works really well for panic attacks. But until recently, I didn’t realize it might work to halt a meltdown. So I decided to try it the next time we had to deal with a behavior outburst.

The effect was almost immediate. And it worked just as well if not better than anything else I’ve tried.

It’s so simple, and it’s absolutely free.

All I did was tell him to take a deep breath. Then I took a deep breath myself to show him what I meant.

It worked! Getting that extra oxygen into his system calmed him right down.

These days, this is the first thing I try when my son is becoming out of control. Having him take a deep breath once or twice is usually all it takes to give him relief.

It works really well to head off a potential problem when I see the warning signs, but it’s also very effective even if he’s in the middle of a full-blown meltdown.

All this may seem hard to believe. But it turns out that the effectiveness of deep breathing is well known among anxiety experts.

David Carbonell, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders, explains it this way: “If you have Panic Disorder or Social Phobia, this deep breathing exercise may be the single most important coping technique I can show you. It’s also useful with other anxiety disorders… Comfortable, deep breathing is the key to relaxation.”

But Dr. Carbonell says it may not always work to tell someone to simply “take a deep breath.” It actually does work really well for my son (along with modeling it for him), but it may not work for everyone.

So if your child can follow a series of instructions, the deep breathing exercise that Dr. Carbonell outlines on his website may be very helpful for your child. You can find his instructions at the link at the end of this message.

But if your child is like my son and has a hard time with following more complex instructions, it may be enough to simply say, “Take a deep breath,” and then model it for her.

It’s so simple, and you don’t need any materials or food, etc. It can also be quite useful when you’re away from home and you don’t have access to anything else that could help.

For us, it seems to work almost every time. I hope it will be helpful for you.

Warm Regards,

Kay Donato Dr. Carbonell's breathing exercises

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