Do you have a place in your life that you retreat to when you are feeling the stressors of the world come down on you? For some, it might be as simple as your home. For others, it might be in a specific location such as sitting on a bench by the garden, or soaking in the bath tub with some soothing bubbles and lit lavender candles.
Wherever your “chill zone” is, you are rejuvenated when you emerge and are better equipped to deal with the next stressful challenges that are sure to come. After all, life and stress go hand in hand. It is how one deals with that stress that contributes to their success each day.
Understanding that individuals with Asperger’s experience ongoing stress as a result of neurological differences, the “chill zone” can serve as an effective coping mechanism.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes has clearly identified that the brain is truly wired differently in ways that are extremely complex. “Using advanced brain imaging techniques, scientists have revealed structural and functional differences in specific regions of the brains of children who have Asperger syndrome versus those who do not have the disorder.”
Read more about this here: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger/detail_asperger.htm
While most neuro-typical individuals can retreat to their “chill zone” on an as-needed basis, individuals with Asperger’s may need more overt planning to identify an effective “chill zone” and an effective strategy on how to access that location and when.
Knowing their own triggers can help persons with Asperger’s know when to access the “chill zone”. In school settings, this may be in a pre-arranged area within a classroom or even a specific room, office or other safe spot on the campus. As with most strategies, the “chill zone” can be more effective if there are calming elements available once they are there.
Keeping with previous blogs, we have discussed how students’ interests can serve as calming mechanisms. Therefore, if possible, decorating the “chill zone” with a student’s interest might be considered. One young student that needed a “chill zone” had an interest in Monster Trucks. Blue Thunder was her favorite, so we found a large box and painted the wheels, doors, lights, and windshield. This student could get inside Blue Thunder to retreat, calm down, and emerge with a positive outcome. That is the purpose of the “chill zone” after all.
by Lisa Rogers
The Education (K-12) Blogs and Special Ed Q & A are written and maintained weekly by Lisa Rogers with Educating Diverse Learners. Lisa received her M.A. in Special Education with an endorsement in the area of individuals with severe disabilities. Mrs. Rogers has also created products that have been used throughout the state of Texas for training purposes. Through the Association for Texas Professional Educators [ATPE], Ms. Rogers has produced an online course that targets the importance of visual strategies for student with autism spectrum disorders and just released her highly anticipated book titled: Visual Supports for Visual Thinkers.