Lately we’ve been trying to understand why Edmund won’t engage in calming strategies outside of occupational therapy (OT). We’ve got a couple ideas – one is different people & different places come with different expectations, but I can’t magically be at OT every time he needs to use a tool. Instead, I’m working on breaking down other barriers to using them. One of these is anxiety.
For kids in the midst of overwhelming input, they are still developing the capacity to recognize and identify emotions. (Let’s be real, so are most adults.) Kids are much more easily swept away by the feelings and aren’t able to think of, nevermind employ, coping strategies.
Today, I was reflecting on the blog post I’d just posted about how visual schedules can benefit children. Maybe my verbal offers of different tools and strategies were making his brain go haywire too, and visuals would be better!
Enter the “idea ring”. I made visual cue cards for his preferred coping strategies in a format he could easily flip through, even without adult help.
These are 8.5×11 sheets of card stock cut into 6 pieces. After I drew & wrote on them, I hole-punched them and laminated them. Using an awl, I created a hole through the laminate over the whole punch – that way the laminate would stabilize the the hole punch and it would be more durable. Then I threaded each card onto a book/binder ring. Voila!
He immediately picked up the finished ring, asked what it was, and started explaining it to his Nana. Then he began to look for and use various tools! Fingers crossed that this helps come meltdown time!
Edit, 5/15: He did use this during a period of upset today, but returned to his upset after the tool. I think he thought that he would do his comforting tool instead of getting dressed. Nice try, kiddo. Although that’s more of a reflection on his avoidance than on this tool, we’ll have to see what happens with consisent application.