Last Saturday we were all so happy and excited about England’s win against Ukraine during Euro 2021. Sports usually brings out so much energy not just from the players but also from the fans and supporters. People feel very connected to their teams and for a moment their win is your win and their loss is yours too.
For children and especially autistic children, these emotions can be very overwhelming.
Unlike neurotypical adults, autistic children cannot always control the intensity of their feelings. With a win like last Saturdays, your child might get over excited and not be able to calm themselves down easily for a while. In that situation, even though it will take some effort from you to help them calm down, at least you’re dealing with a happy child. But what if your child experiences an overwhelming feeling of sadness or disappointment over a sports loss. Trying to help them understand that their feelings are valid but they don’t have to be so intense might be more difficult.
In both cases, how do we help our children be in control of their feelings and avoid overstimulation in exciting situations such as sports events?
Having intense feelings, and not being able to regulate them or express them appropriately, is a common symptom of autism and something your child probably deals with every single day. It’s very important to teach them that all their feelings are valid but experiencing them all with such intensity can be exhausting for them. Teach them to always try to find moderation. This middle ground area where they can feel happy or sad without overwhelming themselves.
Before next Wednesday's game against Denmark, plan ahead with your child and speak about the possibilities of the game. Apply the other pieces of advice during and after the game and let us know how they helped your child. If you have other means that help your autistic child calm down during overexcitement, share with us so we can share with others. We can all use all the help we can get.