Linda Eisen. from New York graciously agreed that I could share her comments with you:
In working with children and adults with ASD for a very long time I have found that anxiety and fear of the unknown can be simply decreased by the use of concrete objects, visual supports and /or social scripts relating to the unknown. When we have scheduled an appointment with a physician, dentist, specialist or will be attending a class for the first time we are uncertain as to what is going to happen. How long am I going to be there? What will be expected of me? By providing visual supports in the form of objects, pictures, social scripts or even something as sophisticated as a virtual tour we give meaning and understanding to the unknown, which in turn diminishes the fear and anxiety.
Linda’s comment reminded me of a concrete object that I used with one of my children years ago. When that child was dealing with anxiety, I took a mug out of the kitchen cupboard, had my child decorate it with the words, “Worry Cup,” and put it by the door to the garage. I cut strips of paper and stacked them next to the cup with a pen. Each day before we left the house, we would write the child’s worries on pieces of paper, fold them, and put them in the cup. We would say a prayer asking that the worries would stay there for the day, and then leave for school or wherever else we were going. At the end of the day we would take out the slips of paper and talk about whether they still represented things that needed to be worried about, or whether they had been resolved. Typically we found that they were no longer an issue. It was a very effective tool!
More recently while job coaching, I instructed a student to leave his worries in the closet with his backpack when he arrived at work. The situation he was worrying about could wait until he was finished working for the day. His anxiety visibly decreased, and he was able to focus on his work.
Last week I posted the following quote on Facebook: Nerves and butterflies are fine — they're a physical sign that you're mentally ready and eager. You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that's the trick. (Steve Bull)
Best wishes as you work to keep your butterflies flying in formation, and attempt to help others do the same!