For kids with sensory sensitivities, sometimes the world can be overwhelming. Maybe it’s too loud or too bright. Maybe there’s too many people and the stimulation from the chaos is painful. When your child experiences sensory overload, it’s time to help them find a calmer location and develop a routine to soothe their overwhelmed sense.
One tool that many parents (and adults with sensory issues) may find helpful for sensory overload is a playlist of soothing songs. Autism advocate and Mighty contributor Kerry Magro shared how music — Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” in particular — was such an important of his process for soothing overwhelming sensory experiences.
“One big thing that helped whenever I felt an overload coming on was listening to as much R&B music as I could — music that was soothing and helped me find a calm place,” Magro wrote, adding:
When I needed to unwind, Adele’s songs were there. I could listen to them on low or high, and no matter what I was feeling at that time, I was able to find my balance. My transformation — from a kid who hid under couches because of any sound that made me feel uneasy to now — has made me so grateful for people like Adele.
To help you build your playlist of songs to support your child during an overwhelming sensory experience, we asked The Mighty’s parenting and autism communities to let us know what songs they or their kids find soothing. Of course, just because one song works for one person, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. But, if you are looking for some inspiration and ideas, this list might help.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. ‘Only Time’ by Enya
“Not a child, but an adult on the autism spectrum here. (I can only speak for myself.) Anything by Enya. She takes me to a whole different world! Otherwise, there’s ‘Consequence’ by The Notwist.” — Erin C.
2. ‘Down’ by Blink-182
“Depends on what you mean by soothing. If he needs to “stim it out,” he loves ‘Down’ by Blink-182. He’ll dance and shake his head and play imaginary drums; it’s like a reset button! When he’s too overwhelmed I can start singing it and he’ll eventually focus on my voice and start singing it back to me.” — Cindy F.
3. ‘Rainbow Connection’ by Kermit the Frog
“‘Rainbow Connection’ by Kermit the Frog.” — Coco H.
4. ‘One’ by Metallica
“Our boys tend to cycle through favorites to calm, but the one that always stays in the rotation is Metallica – ‘One.'” — Kim W.
5. ‘Flying’ by Cody Fry
“Mine (autistic adult here) is ‘Flying’ by Cody Fry or anything Owl City when I’m mellow and ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel or any Mat Kearney when I’m hyped.” — Hannah B.
6. ‘You and I’ by Ingrid Michaelson
“My 4-year-old likes for me to sing ‘You and I’ by Ingrid Michaelson while he swings in his hammock in his darkened bedroom. It’s where he likes to spend time at the end of a long day.” — Natalia M.
7. ‘Ride’ by Twenty One Pilots
“My son absolutely loves Twenty One Pilots. His top two that ALWAYS calm him are ‘Ride’ and ‘Heathens.'” — Jessica S.
8. ‘The Bare Necessities’ from ‘Jungle Book’
“My Grandson Loves ‘The Bare Necessities’ from Jungle book but he has to say the last words, ‘Oh yeah.'” – Fran B.
9. ‘One Flight Down’ by Norah Jones
“My 7-year-old wants me to sing ‘One Flight Down’ by Norah Jones when he’s feeling anxious.” — Krista D.
10. ‘Just Breathe’ by Pearl Jam
“Mine has been calmed by ‘Just Breathe’ (Pearl Jam) since a toddler.” — Joni H.
11. ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele
“Any song by Adele. She has helped us through some tough times!” — Olivia F.
12. ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ by Tears for Fears
“My 14 yo listens to ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ on a constant loop.” — Jill R.
13. ‘The Blue Danube Waltz’ by Johann Strauss
“My son will hum the Blue Danube for self-calming. He also loves Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Thank you, Baby Beethoven.” — Mindy M.
14. ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry
“‘Roar’ by Katy Perry, that one gets belted out a lot when she needs to release something. That and ‘Let It Go’ from ‘Frozen.’ She’s 5.” — Barbara P.
15. ‘Toes’ by Zac Brown Band
“For my daughter, it is ‘The River’ by Garth Brooks or ‘Toes’ by Zac Brown Band. For my son, it is ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ or anything by the Beatles.” — Heidi B.
16. ‘Wildflowers’ by Tom Petty
“Tom Petty’s ‘Wildflowers’ single or Lucinda Williams’ album ‘Cartwheels on a Gravel Road’ for my 5-year-old son.” — Vicki N.
17. ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley
“My son’s song is ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley. My son is 5.” — Joann P.
18. ‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac
“‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac I have to sing it for him when he’s in overload.” — Stephanie S.
19. ‘The Beautiful People’ by Marilyn Manson
“I have one kiddo who LOVES Marilyn Manson and it calms him right down when he’s having a rough time during sessions.” — Ashton L.
20. ‘The Alphabet Song’
“Singing the Alphabet always helps my son.” — Nicole V.
“My son has always loved the alphabet song. He was crying at a fair one time and a strolling musician started playing ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star.’ He never knew that the kid stopped crying because it was the alphabet song.” — Tia C.
21. ‘Dites-Moi Pourquoi’ from ‘South Pacific’
“When I was a colicky and easily overloaded autistic baby, my grandma used to sing ‘Dites-Moi’ from the musical ‘South Pacific.'” — Alix J.
What songs would you add to the list? Share with us in the comments below!