I get some many requests from parents and teachers for suggestions of calming activities for children that are on sensory overload or they are feeling angry or upset. Teachers also ask for ideas to help their students focus. Two wonderful resources for self-regulation that I use include the Whole Body Listening Larry series by Elizabeth Sautter and Kristen Wilson and The ZONES of Regulation curriculum by Leah M. Kuypers. Learn more at www.socialthinking.com.

These are some of my suggestions of items that you may want to include in a special “breathe box” to keep in the car, in the classroom, or in their bedroom. You can also put these same items in a fanny pack or mini backpack so that it is more portable. Enjoy!

Breathe Box:

  • Sunglasses- may also want to try fashion glasses that have different colored lenses (some colors are more calming to each individual)
  • Eye mask or Eye Pillow (with or without a calming scent)
  • Therapy Putty- great for hand strength, too.
  • Silly Putty
  • Stress balls or some type of squeeze balls
  • Homemade Fidget: Cut a 1-inch ring from a pool noodle (Use your noodle!)
  • Play dough (they make scented play dough)
  • Mind Jar (glitter jar)
  • Smooth stone for rubbing        
  • Happy pictures or even funny pictures to look at on a key ring
  • Feelings Chart or Zones of Regulation (http://www.zonesofregulation.com/) Colors on a key ring (red, yellow, green, blue)
  • 10 Straws (count them slowly 1-10)
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Scented Cotton Ball inside a small container so that the scent stays awhile (lavender or vanilla)
  • Small Pinwheel
  • Finger Labrynth
  • Visual for Square Breathing
  • Small Notepad and markers for drawing and/or journaling
  • Peppermints
  • Calvin and Hobbes book for laughter therapy
  • Book that they like
  • iTouch with calming music or nature sounds (you can get headphones at Costco that double for sound blocking and listening to music)
  • Ear plugs
  • Gum (the bigger the chew, the better. Some students use a whole pack of Big League Gum.)
  • Hand gripper
  • Wikki Stix
  • Microbead pillow or stuffed animal for squeezing
  • stress toy that reminds me of Superflex! For more information go to www.socialthinking.com


  •  Yet another idea for a stress toy.   http://www.trainerswarehouse.com/Moody-Face-Fiddle/productinfo/FIDUDE/
  • Weighted animal or blanket- You can just fill a tube sock with rice and decorate like a snake.
  • Body Sox for deep pressure/proprioceptive input (for use at home)
  • Compression garments such as tight fitting Under Armor garments
  • Mini bubble tube for a visual tool.

About mhkeiger

I am a Social Learning Specialist and owner of Ausomely Social LLC. I have presented at the Social Thinking Providers Conference. I received my bachelor's degree in English from Salem College and my master's degree in Cross-Categorical Education from the University of North Carolina - Greensboro. I am a long-term member of the Autism Society of North Carolina. I was awarded Professional of the Year by the Autism Society of North Carolina in 2003. I have over 29 years of extensive training and experience in the area of social skills.

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