It can be challenging to find a self-regulation technique that works, especially if the child you’re working with has autism. Children with autism often struggle with self-regulation, making it challenging for them to express and manage emotions, anxious thoughts, or physical stress.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a great technique to use with children struggling with self-regulation because it allows for personalization of the scripted passages we use to guide the exercise. You can use PMR as a calming technique at home, at the office, or in the classroom and tailor the session to meet the individual needs of the child.
PMR focuses on relaxing, then tensing, specific groups of muscles. It teaches the child to notice the differences between how muscles feel when they are relaxed, versus when they are tense. Besides the calming effect PMR has, it also teaches the child to recognize when their body feels stressed and will help them develop skills to reduce tension and self-regulate. Tips:
- It works best when the parent, educator, or therapist reads the script in a soothing voice, or plays a PMR script.
- Try to practice once a day.
- Practice in a quiet, comfortable place.
There are many different PMR scripts you can use. Feel free to individualize this sample sheet below to better meet the needs of the child you’re working with.
This free PMR worksheet is from The Key to Autism: An Evidence-based Workbook for Assessing and Treating Children and Adolescents
by Dr. Cara Marker Daily.