Calmness and mindfulness is an open and friendly willingness to understand what’s going on in and around you. It means living in the present moment (which is not the same as thinking about the present moment) without judging or ignoring anything or getting carried away by the pressures of everyday life. When you are mindful while waking up, eating lunch, playing, or with every major and minor conflict, your mind is not elsewhere but right there in the moment.
You save energy, as you are aware of what is happening while it is happening. This mindful, friendly presence changes your behaviour as well as your attitude toward yourself and other children. Mindfulness is feeling the sun on your skin, feeling the salty tears rolling down your cheeks, feeling a ripple of frustration in your body. Mindfulness is experiencing both joy and misery as and when they occur, without having to do something about it or having an immediate reaction or opinion.
Mindfulness is directing your friendly awareness to the here and now, at every moment. But mindfulness practice involves some effort and intentionality.
Calmness and mindfulness
can be learnt.
BE A FROG. You could introduce an exercise as follows: “A frog is a remarkable creature. It is capable of enormous leaps, but it can also sit very, very still. Although it’s aware of everything that happens in and around it, the frog tends not to react right away. The frog sits still and breathes, preserving its energy instead of getting carried away by all the ideas that keep popping into its head. The frog sits still, very still, while it breathes. Its frog tummy rises a bit and falls again. It rises and falls. “Anything a frog can do, you can do too. All you need is mindful attention. Attention to the breath. Attention and peace and quiet.”
Calming activities for children with Autism
Consider implementing some of the following calming activities:
- Working in a tent
- Resting on beanbags
- Gentle bouncing or rolling on a small exercise ball
- Rolling up tight in a blanket or having a weighted blanket to wrap around
- Slow rhythmic movements- tyre swing, rocking horse, facing each other holding hands rocking to and fro
- Doing “heavy work” rolling tyres, dragging weighted bags
- Offering a fidget toys basket with items that can be pulled, squeezed, and manipulated
- Giving children bubble wrap to keep in their pockets during group times
- Singing or listening to calming action songs
- Sitting and reading child’s favourite stories.
Calming sensory seekers
To calm children seeking sensory input, activities that are not typically calming will often help regulate a child’s sensory needs. Then a child may be able participate in a calming activity.
Some of these activities can include:
- Bouncing on a ball
- Swinging on a tyre swing
- Spinning around and crashing on a mat
- Rolling around on the ground
- Playing games like musical freeze
- Throwing around a balloon
Different strategies will work for different children.