Sensory Calming Strategies for Autism Meltdowns (with free printable!)

Often, when it comes to autism meltdown strategies, we are addressing a sensory overload. So it would make sense to address like-with-like, wouldn’t it? Here are a few sensory calming strategies for autism meltdowns. 

Why use sensory calming strategies for autism meltdowns?

Autism meltdowns are often the result of a sensory overload.

  • Too much noise
  • Too much light
  • Too much of a smell
  • Too much input
  • Not enough noise (yes- this is a thing)
  • Too high pitched of a frequency
  • Not enough light
  • Tactile/touch issues

And while we have already discussed our favorite calming strategies for meltdowns, I wanted to specifically address sensory calming strategies.

It makes sense when you think about it, you know? Sensory calming for sensory meltdowns. We want to look at the triggers and causes behind these meltdowns, so let’s address that sensory deficit or overload.

Different Types of Sensory Calming Strategies

Many of the self-calming strategies for autism are already sensory based. Extra touch, pressure, or movement help to restore balance within. Just think about it. When you go out in public, there’s so much that we already deal with.

I know for myself, I get easily overwhelmed with smells and people. If I don’t have enough space or if there are many strong scents, I need to retreat. However, I can do this easily and independently.

For an individual with autism, they may not be able to express this. Or they may need a way to incorporate them into their communication. 

For some children, it’s as simple as using words or pointing to an object.

For some children, it may be a matter of using visual representations or pictures. 

How a child accesses their calming strategy, depends on what best works for them. And with repetition, you can often transition from real pictures to clipart representations.

If you are just starting out however, I would highly recommend that you start with actual pictures. They don’t need to be fancy or professional, use your phone to start. And if you are struggling with locating pictures, ask your child’s speech therapist. They can often help you with accessing the correct resources.


If you are using these at home, just be mindful about the images. You may or may not have all of the strategies in the cards. Adjust accordingly and for your family’s needs. I have included cards and sentence strips but if you need another format, please let me know! 

To download the free printable sensory calming strategies, and many other calming strategy printables, take a look at the Autism Calming Strategies Toolkit

Manage meltdowns with ease with the Calming Strategies Toolkit

The first step to calming a meltdown, is knowing what meltdown strategy to use. Inside the Calming Strategies toolkit, you’ll find an assortment that are proven to work.

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Content Creator at Kori at Home
Kori is a late diagnosed neurodivergent mom. She is currently located in Albany, NY where she is raising a neurodiverse family. Her older daughter is non-speaking autistic (and also has ADHD and Anxiety) and her youngest daughter is HSP/Gifted. A blogger, podcaster, writer, and coach; Kori shares neurodivergent life in a neurotypical world while helping others to do the same. As an empath, HSP, and highly intuitive individual, Kori brings her own life experiences as an autistic woman combined with her adventures in momming to bring you the day-to-day of her life at home. Kori is on a mission to empower moms of autistic children to make informed parenting decisions with confidence and conviction.

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