Having a calm down space is crucial in your special education classroom. Students with autism will, at times, get upset, angry, or frustrated by their environment. It is imperative that you have a place for your students to go when they feel their engine running high.
Some call it a “time-out”, “reflection space”, or “chill zone”, but no matter what it is, you need one.
A calm down space can be the intermediary that helps a student acknowledge their frustrations, but stops them before they can escalate.
The space is preferably small, with soft, natural materials that a student can snuggle up in and receive deep pressure from. This space works best when it is devoid of sensory stimulation. This means finding a less trafficked area of the classroom with reduced lighting and noise cancelling headphones.
A calm down space has many benefits, let’s start by discussing 5.
1. Ensure Safety
School should be a place where students are safe. A calm down space should be utilized when a student is getting upset, but before they become too unsafe to remain in the classroom.
It is your job to sense this tipping point and ensure the safety of all students.
A calm down space is a classroom management tool that allows you to maintain and control the safety of all students. An upset student gets a chance to cool off in a separate space, maintaining the safety of both the upset students and their peers.
2. Promote Independence
A subtle benefit of a calm down space is that it promotes independence in your students. A calm down space gives your students a chance to remove themselves from a stressful situation without fear of being in trouble. It shows them that it is okay to get upset, frustrated or angry, but it is more important for them to learn the independent coping skills to leave a situation when needed.
3. Promote Self-Regulation Skills
Self-regulation skills are the cognitive skills that a student develops slowly over the course of their lives. It is the ability to check-in with themselves and analyze their emotions. Recognizing and analyzing emotions can be a tough skill for your students with autism.
A calm down corner helps promote self-regulation skills by teaching students to stop and check-in with themselves.
4. Maintain Efficiency
Stopping to escort an aggressive or unsafe student out of the classroom is an inefficient use of your time. Having to escort a student from a classroom distracts from the learning of others. By offering a calm down space, students have an opportunity to make the right choice and you get to continue teaching. When a student can use the calm down space efficiently, you will save time and staff while increasing time on learning.
It’s a Win-Win!
5. Promote Self-Esteem
Spiraling into a crisis is not something you ever want to see happen in your classroom. By preemptively offering your students a chance to remove themselves and halt what could end up being an embarrassing episode, you are promoting self-esteem and empowering that student. They have the chance to recognize the feelings in their body and react appropriately before they get out of control.
A calm down space is a perfect tool in your classroom! Need help setting one up? Get this FREE workbook!