Prioritize Coping and Calming Skills

Supporting individuals with autism to learn coping, self-management, and self-care skills is a priority during this time of uncertainty.

  • Ideally, individuals with autism have some coping and calming strategies in their repertoire of skills to access with support during their most anxious times. These may include rocking in a rocking chair, listening to music on headphones, deep breathing, watching a preferred video clip, brief periods of vigorous exercise, or accessing a favorite activity or material. If coping or calming strategies are not yet part of the routine, caregivers can prioritize the teaching of these skills during this time of uncertainty.
    • Strategically choose times of the day when the individual with autism is calm to initiate the instruction.
    • Create a concrete and visual routine to support the use of these strategies. Many free apps are available for calming strategies and guided meditations such as Calm, Headspace, Breathe2Relax, Pacifica, and RainRain. Several examples of calming routines and self-management systems are provided.
    • Ensure that the individual with autism has ample access to these calming activities.
    • Coping/calming activities may be scheduled regularly across the day in the initial weeks of changes, then, if appropriate, caregivers may introduce and teach a self-management plan that helps individuals track their anxious or worried responses and identify when the calming strategies are required.
  • Exercise/physical activity is a proven strategy to reduce anxiety symptoms with the broader population, as well as with individuals with autism. Consider establishing/adding basic exercise routines for the family such as wearing a FitBit and counting daily steps, a nightly walk, or an online/app based workout. Many sites are offering free access during this time, such as the Down Dog yoga app, Nike Run Club, and Facebook Live streams from Planet Fitness.

Prioritize Coping and Calming Skills Strategy Packet
The Prioritize Coping and Calming Skills Strategy Packet contains all of the content and resources related to self-management skills for individuals with ASD.