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When we had the big meeting with all of Will’s teachers, therapists, and administrators before he entered the sixth grade (middle school in our district), his social worker suggested that Will should have a place of refuge at the middle school. This was his place where he could escape in order to calm himself down. In his case, we designated the Title One Room. He was allowed go in there and talk to the aide, read a book, work on his homework. Just repair himself. All of his teachers were in agreement, and it was written into his IEP.

What a good idea, I thought at the time. So at home, we designated a place of refuge for him. In our case, it was his room. We said, “You need to take refuge in your room to calm yourself down. Read a book. Look out the window. Would you like a snack to take with you? Listen to some music. When you are calmer, you can come out.” Sometimes after a little bit, Ralph or I would go to his room and talk with him. Other times, he would come back out on his own.

This was helpful for our family.

I think it mattered what we named it, too. Both to us and to Will. By calling it his place of refuge, it was communication to him that he was able to calm himself down, and we needed to calm ourselves down as well.

This was just one strategy for helping Will cope with his emotions. Later on, he didn’t need it as much and we developed additional strategies for coping.