“Body Calm, Mommy!”

Photo Cred: visualcues.wikispaces

This picture look familiar to anyone?  It was brand-new to me until last spring when my now four year-old son (Big C) received the diagnosis of ASD and the floodgates opened.  Suddenly, I was inundated with cue cards and visuals designed to help us as parents “manage” our son.

I’m learning very quickly that parents have very mixed emotions about this kind of stuff.  I’ve read blogs where parents are outraged by concepts like “quiet hands” and see techniques such as ABA therapy akin to torture and brainwashing (I’ll admit I’ve had my share of bad experiences).

I’m becoming a quick study and am discovering very quickly that I learn best simply by following the cues of my own kid (crazy concept, huh?)  ABA wasn’t for us, but man, does he dig the visuals!  My husband and I tried a visual schedule this summer, and it was like a magical talisman.  Does it work 100% of the time?  Of course not, but it sure does help.  Just making him aware of what’s coming next alleviates so much stress for him (and his Mommy too!)

An extension of the visual schedule are the use of visual cue cards.  His teachers at preschool and daycare use them often, especially during circle time, when he struggles to sit still and focus.

Imagine. A four-year old boy who doesn’t want to sit still.

All joking aside, while I’m pleased the visual cards are helping him focus, I’m way more concerned with managing his aggression.  He’s an emotional little guy, and if he’s mad (and tired) enough, he will hit, throw, kick, scream – even bite on the rare occasion.

This is where the “Body Calm” technique has proven effective.  Again, for my son.

When he starts to escalate, he’s learning to self-regulate, doing as the picture illustrates and wrapping his arms around his chest and taking deep breaths.  Does he usually need prompting?  Sure.  Does it always work?  Heck no.

But I know he’s getting it. Case in point:

Just a few weeks ago, I was all in a huff because my husband (who usually does morning drop-off with the boys) had to go into work early.  I was stressing trying to pack lunches, book bags, and get my two boys out the door before my own job start time of 7:15 am.

Big C, sensing my distress (he’s highly attune to emotions) very loudly proclaimed to me, “Mommy, you need to get your body calm!”

It totally worked.  I busted out laughing, said, “You’re right,” and we did it together.

I’m happy to report I had a calm rest of the day thanks to my little life coach.

How have your children coached you through life?

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

The Sensory Spectrum

A version of this post also appears on The Jenny Evolution.


Published by Miranda Keskes

I am a freelance writer, editor, and tutor with fifteen years of high school teaching experience. Helping young adults craft their unique writer's voice is one of my passions. As the mother of a child with autism, I also feel compelled to share our story, connect with fellow parents, and raise awareness for a diagnosis that is still quite misunderstood. Learn more at my business site, KeskesInk.com, and my personal blog, MommyCatharsis.com.

16 thoughts on ““Body Calm, Mommy!”

  1. I’d love to know how you got your kiddo to start trying to calm his own body down. My little guy (SPD) is 6 and he gets very aggravated and violent as well (and it’s escalated when he is tired too). I’ve tried showing him techniques when he is calm and although he seems all excited to try…the next meltdown…it is me doing the calming down for him. I’d love for him to get to the point where (at least sometimes) he can do a technique before he melts down.


    1. I will say that my little guy is better at reminding ME when to do it rather than himself. It’s a work in progress. I’m sure you helping calm your own little guy down is teaching him A LOT, and one day, he’ll start to self-regulate. 🙂


    2. Reading MC’s reply got me thinking: Since our children love being the bosses of us, could you start by making him the teacher first? Each time you start to lose it–but he is not–ask for his help to remind YOU about body calming. If this “takes”, you may be able to use it nexf when you’re losing it as HE’s losing it–let’s face it, a pretty natural reaction! That could help break his build-up. Phase three would be asking him to body calm himself.

      Just a thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yes, just even looking at that picture makes me think this would be a great tool for…me.
    But for my son? Probably not so much.
    Navigating all this well-meaning helpful- and not-helpful information is a challenge, right? you capture it very well.
    There are moments when I think, “(*&&^% You for thinking my child needs xyz, or for trying to impose your standards on him;” other times I am all, “Heeeeeeeeeelp.”
    Respect for our children (and ourselves) and listening I think are the keys.
    Great post.


    1. Thank you! I know what you mean about getting frustrated with those who give unwanted advice. I’ve definitely received my fair share of that. I’m just developing a thicker skin through this process.


  3. Kudos to your son for a terrific achievement! Kudos to you for your hard work in helping him get there!

    I had never heard of this before–love it. My Aspie and ADHD sons could have both benefitted the twenty years ago they were young. Rats: No do-overs : )

    Liked by 1 person

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