Stress manifests for numerous reasons and in various forms, from anxiety to frustration. Dealing with any type of stress takes a toll on your body and mental health, causing a domino effect of issues. Children with autism commonly experience high stress levels derived from sensory overload, feeling like they lack control, and insecurities.
Reducing stress goes beyond simply removing the cause of frustration. It involves learning how to handle responses and emotional reactions. Therapy provides bountiful skills, tools, and reflective moments that allow children to strengthen their emotions and skills to better handle stressors. Here are three forms of therapy that can reduce stress in children with autism.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One of the most popular forms of therapy is cognitive behavioral, a treatment that focuses on psycho and social intervention. It provides a reflective solution to handling scenarios and emotions. Sessions typically cover five main topics, including situations, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings, and actions. With each focal point, the patient and therapist dive deep into those aspects, dissect them, and create behavioral challenges to start implementing in one’s life. It provides different behavioral solutions to explore and integrate, finding alternative ways to handle stressors and minimizing anxieties and discomfort.
Like most therapeutic forms, exposure therapy appears in numerous variations. However, no matter the type of therapy session, all exposure treatment focuses on learning and developing behavior and response skills from experience. Equine-assisted therapy for autism exposes people to sensory-overloaded scenarios like riding a horse or a gait simulator while undergoing other tasks. The multitasking and sensory-filled sessions expose patients to controlled and minimal stressors. It allows those undergoing the therapy to gain familiarity with such scenarios and build proper emotional responses and actions, minimizing and aiding feelings of stress. Exposure therapy enforces and establishes healthier stress responses and reactions.
For children, play therapy makes a great therapeutic option. It creates scenarios kids are familiar with and adds a learning moment to them, disguising the work within the fun. Play therapy often includes:
- Arts and crafts
- Dance and movement
- Board games
- Fun physical exercises
The list of play therapy techniques goes on and on. Once again, no matter the game, exercise, or form of play implemented in the therapy session, all play therapy fosters skills through playing games and fun. Play therapy excites and motivates children to participate in therapy, increasing their skill building and optimizing their therapy. Plus, partaking in enjoyable activities reduces stress and boosts serotonin.
These three therapeutic forms for reducing stress in children with autism approaches stress reduction in various ways. Cognitive behavioral focuses on reflection, exposure therapy creates learning opportunities from experiences, and play therapy produces serotonin and skill strengthening through entertainment. Each form of therapy helps young ones with autism manage stress with strengthened emotional responses and heightened reactive abilities. The less stress in one’s life, the happier one becomes and the easier the life one lives.