How We Help Special Needs Kids With Anxiety

How We Help Special Needs Kids With Anxiety


When you are inside one of our therapy rooms you might see some brightly colored charts.


Zones of Regulation


These represent what we call “Zones of Regulation.” This is one of the many ways we work with anxiety. We have the Green Zone, which is when you’re in your happy mood. Yellow Zone is when you’re just beginning to get stressed about something. Blue Zone is when you’re feeling fatigued or lethargic. Finally, Red Zone is when you’re just mad!


We use this zone chart in many different ways, and we can customize them. For instance, my son has an easier time understanding the zones if I use pictures of his face on each color. We have a picture of his face in each one of these zones! In the Blue Zone we have a picture of him sleeping. In the Green Zone he looks happy. In the Yellow Zone he looks frustrated, and then in the Red Zone we have a picture of his mad face.


Customized For Your Child


Underneath the picture, or whatever will work for your child, we have a list of things they can do to get out of that zone, or to address that zone. Again, we can completely customize this for your child. For my child, we have “swings” listed in his Blue Zone because swinging tends to get him into the Green Zone. We want him to get to and stay in the Green Zone, and there are several strategies he can use, whether here or in the community, to adjust those zones. We also try to teach them how it feels to be in that zone. With anxiety, many of our kids don’t have body awareness so we talk about the Eight Sensory Systems or interoception—how do I feel about the way I feel? They don’t really have a connection to their feelings like that, so we try to teach them how each stage feels. How does my body feel when I’m calm? How does my body feel when I’m stressed? Does my stomach get into knots? Do I feel tension in my muscles? Different things like that really help.


What is Causing The Anxiety?


We not only try to identify how anxiety feels, but we try to identify what the components of the anxiety are. For some kids, transitions make them feel anxious. If they can have some control over their schedule, and if they know what’s going to happen next, they can modulate better. However, if something happens that they have no control over, the Zones of Regulation chart can give them some strategies to help them get back to the Green Zone.


So if you hear your kiddos talking about their “zones,” this is why! We’d be more than happy to provide you with a zone regulation chart. Just let us know!

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