Low frustration tolerance is a huge struggle for many of my clients with Autism and special needs. How would you feel if you knew exactly what you wanted but lacked the skills to tell someone?? How do we deal help our children and students deal with frustration?
First let me say – This article is not intended to be a “fix-all” for frustration and the behaviors that result. There are many, many other professionals out there that are more qualified to help with reducing frustration and negative behavior through an intervention plan.
I do, however, strongly believe that music therapy has a special role in assisting students with special needs in working through frustration and even in preventing it.
Several of my clients practice relaxation techniques in music therapy and learn/practice songs designed to help them remember to stay calm, take deep breaths, and ask for a break. I actually wrote such a song here and it has worked beautifully.
This song is about 1) recognizing the feeling of frustration, 2) stating how you feel, and 3) knowing that is OK.
Tips & Tricks
Teach when calm. The best time to teach this song is NOT when the child in in the midst of frustration or is having a meltdown. We do want the child to eventually transfer recognition and techniques to their own experiences but that will not happen until she has time to practice in a calm and happy environment.
Use the picture book. I created a picture book to go along with this song/social story. You can get it for free at the end of this post. Bonus Tip: Use pictures of the child so he or she can more quickly relate to the pictures.
Or don’t use the picture book. Though the book could certainly be beneficial for your child, I quickly discovered the accompanying visual was not best strategy for my client. Why? If a child is prone to imitating what she sees, focusing on pictures that are negative by nature, might actually reinforce or encourage the negative behavior. We don’t want that! You instead may choose only to show the pictures of the positive behaviors or no pictures at all. Do what is best for your situation!
Give opportunities to fill in a feelings statement. This could be with a communication device, using words, or using pictures. In the fill-in version of the song (available in our store), there is a specific spot in the song when the child can practice this!
When mom says “no,” I feel frustrated.
When I don’t get my way, I feel frustrated.
When my teacher says, “not right now,” I feel frustrated.
When it’s time to move on, I feel frustrated.
I feel frustrated.
I feel frustrated.
So I take a step back.
I take a deep breath.
I count to ten.
Then I try it again.
I ask for help.
I take a break.
Say how I feel: “I feel angry. I feel frustrated.”
And that’s ok.
What are some strategies you use when your student or child is dealing with frustration? Have you used music before? Let me know in the comments or send me a message email@example.com.
P.S. Don’t forget to get the picture book that accompanies this song! Just sign up below.
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