How to Create a Safe Place

By: Linda Steed, PT

Bio: Linda Steed graduated in 1974 from the University of Oklahoma with a BS in Physical Therapy and holds a certificate of Management from Tulsa Community College earned in the 1980s. Primary practice experiences are 15 years at Tulsa Hillcrest Medical Center, the rehabilitation center, the extended care unit, outpatient area, and the acute care hospital; two years in an outpatient, occupational medical clinic; and geriatric rehabilitation in nursing homes and home health care. Linda began work at the Little Light House in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1996. She has completed certification in Neurodevelopmental Treatment. Linda has served as a physical therapist, section manager, and department director. She has participated in the development of our preschool curriculum and caregiver training. Linda is currently the Senior Director of National and Global Impact at Little Light House, developing training materials, and training individuals to work with children with developmental delays on a local, national, and international level.

Whether you are a parent of a child with a sensory processing disorder, a teacher, or other caregivers, you have most likely experienced “The Melt Down.”  

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can have behaviors that are difficult to understand. These are often referred to as “Melt Downs.” Generally, the cause of these undesirable behaviors is sensory processing disorders. A sensory processing disorder is when the nervous system does not interpret sensory input in a typical manner. 

We all have five basic senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. We are continually receiving information through multiple senses at any one moment. Through time and development, we have learned to take in, sort, and respond to this stimulation in a socially appropriate manner.  However, we also have developed “coping mechanisms” to deal with the stimuli that we find annoying and even irritating. For more information on Sensory Processing Disorder, visit our diagnosis page. 

The system of children with sensory processing disorder has not developed the ability to deal with all this stimulation, and the child has not yet learned the socially appropriate coping mechanisms. We need to teach them appropriate coping mechanisms for when they become overstimulated and need a break. Being in a large crowd or a noisy place, or even just being in a busy classroom can become overstimulating. The child does not need to be punished. They need a break away from the situation. 

Making a safe place like a corner tent, or box retreat for the child to be alone in the classroom, or the home, can be calming to the child and those with them.  Over time, the child will learn to go to the designated quiet place on their own, thus avoiding disturbing the classroom or home. 

You can find the instructions for an easy Corner Tent and DIY Box Retreat below!

How to Make a Corner Tent

DIY Box Retreat

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