Asper Tame: 50 Ways to Calm an Aspie, and 1 Extra


What if I’m looking for a bathroom, I can’t find one, and my bladder explodes? ~from “What About Bob?”

Someone just stepped on Murdock's nuts

For the record, before I go any further, I don’t think either the eponymous Bob Wiley is/was an Aspie (he’s more a neurotic manipulator), and Murdock, well, is Murdock, a real “Baskin Case” with 31 interchangeable forms of insanity. I know I’m an Aspie, and there are times when the inevitable meltdowns happen. Anything can trigger them. Strong perfumes. Light that’s too bright. Harsh, thumping backbeat music. Just about anything. Like Superman reacting to Kryptonite, these meltdowns can incapacitate me or other Aspies like me for minutes or even hours at a time.

I’m not a parent, but I know it’s even worse for moms and dads with Aspie kids. Kids have a harder time controlling emotions and telling adults what they’re feeling. (The one good thing about AS is, it does tend to get easier as one gets older.)

Surely someone else has done one of these helpful hints lists. This one is from my own personal experiences. Not all of these will work for every Aspie, since we are, like everyone else, unique. I’m also not a professional, so take these suggestions with a grain of salt. If I can bring a measure of peace to at least a few fellow Aspies, I think my work is done.

Note: Some of these tips are more for adults, and some for kids…I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which are which.

Counting nuts

#1. Set up a “power word” through meditation which will instantly put the speaker in a calmer state.

#2. Keep a pair of headphones and an inexpensive mp3 player with favorite songs handy.

#3. Close your eyes, breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth, and count to 10 (or 20, 50, or as long as it takes.)

#4. Watch a favorite scene from a favorite movie or TV show.

#5. Have a swatch of a favorite, calming scent (lemon, oiled leather, lavender, etc.) handy to use as necessary.

#6. Look at panoramic pictures in an old travel magazine or National Geographic.

#7. Cuddle with a stuffed animal (or, if you can, a real one.)

#8. Visit a local park or greenway during odd hours (sunset or sunrise are best.)

#9. For those who are inclined, go to a local sporting event. I’m not sure why, but this is a social setting many Aspies can and do tolerate.

#10. Make lists. It doesn’t really matter what kinds of lists.

#11. Depending on which season it is, try a cool cloth or heating pad on the forehead.

#12. Herbal teas such as raspberry, chamomile or dandelion can be beneficial.

#13. Paint. You don’t even have to have talent to try watercolor or tempura.

#14. Go to a golf driving range, batting cage or hockey rink to burn off excessive anger.

#15. Find a sympathetic NT who will listen to you rant and rave for a little while (every Aspie needs a friend like this.)

Honestly, big guy, just having an Aspie moment


#16. Take a long bath or shower.

#17. Exercise (with headphones to minimize outside noise)

#18. Turn off all the lights in the room, if you can.

#19. Try a natural pick-me-up like natural cranberry or pomegranate juice.

#20. If you’re an Aspie who works, talk to your supervisor about brief sensory breaks throughout the day instead of one block of time for lunch all at once.

#21. Whenever possible, take a 15-30 minute cat nap sometime in the afternoon.

#22. Go to a part of town or suburb where you normally don’t go and hang out. (They won’t know you’re an Aspie.) The best place to go is the artsy/bohemian district in town; every sizable city has one.

#23. Wear a disguise such as a wig or sunglasses.

#24. As Temple Grandin describes it in her books, try the power of a “squeeze machine” or therapeutic pressure.

#25. Cut the tags out of clothing if necessary.

#26. Listen to an unfamiliar artist or musical genre. There’s remarkable power in music.

#27. If you are able, walk a dog or ride a horse.

#28. Try to spot shapes in clouds.

#29. Within reason, eat treats like dark chocolate or fruit. (Some foods have natural stimulant properties.)

#30. If you absolutely need a mental health day from work or school, take one. There is nothing wrong with needing this time. That’s what sick days are for…so we can get better.

Just listening to NT blather sometimes makes us sick

#31. Don’t feel pressured to do mundane things like dishes or laundry during a meltdown. They can wait.

#32. Try to keep a journal of when meltdowns occur so they can be more accurately predicted (ie, what triggers a meltdown?)

#33. Do something playful like putting together a model or sculpting with modeling clay.

#34. Get a squeeze ball or Koosh ball to relieve some of the tension.

#35. Invest in a white noise machine; it’s $20 well spent.

#36. Make sure clothing and shoes fit correctly and are not irritable.

#37. Have someone you can call no matter what if a meltdown gets out of hand. Keep a card with this person’s contact information handy in your wallet just in case, and program his/her number in your phone.

#38. Sit within easy escape distance when in a potentially nerve-wracking situation (restaurant, busy store, etc.)

#39. Take a good book with you wherever you go…generally no one will bother someone engrossed in reading.

#40. If in need of a quick, quiet retreat, find a local church, synagogue or temple that’s open during the day. Even if you’re not religious, these places are generally very safe and silent.

#41. During rush hour, which can be stressful, find a peaceful radio station such as NPR, or listen to an audio book when driving.

#42. Wear a baseball cap or sunglasses to cut down on glare.

#43. If necessary, have a good scream or howl into a pillow.

#44. Wear yourself out physically, then get a really good night’s sleep.

#45. Don’t feel bad about turning down invitations to NT havens/overload nightmares like nightclubs, carnivals or rock concerts.

Even Aspies like concerts sometimes

#46. Make sure the air temperature/humidity level in the room is suitable to your liking at home.

#47. Avoid perfumes and colognes (and try to avoid those who do wear them, if possible.)

#48. Have a safe outlet for releasing anger; try breaking old dishes, for example.

#49. Color in a coloring book.

#50. Practice yoga.

#51…Never feel bad about meltdowns. None of us are perfect and we don’t have to apologize for AS.

Enjoyed this post? Don’t forget to click the “Like” button and add P&Q to your daily reading list!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on May 19, 2011.

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