The Fight or Flight response is our body’s reaction to a stressor - real or perceived. A child can be triggered and put into a Fight or Flight response by many different things including people, situations, and experiences. When children receive input but their brain does not know how to process it, they may start to panic and as a result, they may try to get out of the situation by fighting – pushing / throwing / kicking. Or flight – running, climbing – anything to physically remove themselves from the situation.
This process is happening very fast at a subconscious level as their brain is perceiving a threat and it wants to protect itself. Unfortunately, some children may not always understand why their brains and body are acting in this way. Children with Autism or other special needs may not fully grasp their feelings and how their feelings are causing them to react.
What Might the Fight or Flight Response Look Like?
If a child is triggered into the Fight or Flight response, you may see some of the following:
What can we do if our child is in Fight or Flight mode?
Here are some simple tips and strategies to try if you notice your child in Fight or Flight mode:
In our next blog post, we will discuss in more detail the link between Sensory Input / Sensory Integration and Fight or Flight Mode.
See you soon!
Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
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