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We’ve all been there. We slept poorly, we forgot to grab our breakfast as we scurried out the door, and we are crashing by the time the 9:00am meeting comes around. Our energy levels are low, maybe even non-existent, but we need to be at our best for this meeting. So, we grab a snack, do some power poses or jumping jacks, and get our energy levels up. Our energy level to start did not match what we needed to be successful, so we used our strategies from our toolbox to help ourselves get our energy up.

Many kids are still developing this toolbox, and may not be sure when or how they should use these tools. They might not recognize (yet- let’s use that growth mindset!) that their energy is not matching the task at hand, and are not able to modulate these levels on their own. As adults in their lives, we are able to observe from the outside, and help them begin to gain this understanding. We know that if we are sitting down and eating dinner our energy levels should be lower, but if we are running around at the park our energy should be high. Here are some helpful tips to start helping your child recognize their levels and the next steps!


  • To start, get curious about your own energy levels! Notice when they are out of the norm. For example, “I noticed my body is moving really slow and my energy is low. I think my energy needs to be higher to play this game.” or “my energy is right in the middle, that is perfect for focusing on cooking dinner!”
  • Then, you can start helping your child to notice their own energy levels, for example, “I notice you are jumping and running around the room. I think your energy level is really high, what do you think?”
  • Begin asking if these levels match: “Hmm, your energy level is high, does that match what we need to do your homework?”
  • If the energy levels do not match, you can suggest regulation tools! “I agree! Your body is moving too fast and is not ready to sit down yet. Why don’t we try doing some jumping jacks and wall pushups, and checking back in?”
  • As they begin to gain this understanding you can start having your child figure out their own tools, while still being there for support if needed! Talk to your child’s occupational therapist about creating a visual or physical toolbox that is catered and adjusted to fit your child’s specific needs!

Our energy levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day, which is totally normal and a good thing! Every energy level is valid, important, and helpful for different tasks. They key is figuring out what levels we need for what tasks, and ways to help our body get to each of these levels. Once you start thinking about it, it is easy to recognize both moments of energy match and mismatch throughout our day, and you will be well on your way to supporting you child with learning this concept as well!

The founders of Autism Level Up created tools to support the Autistic community to improve one’s ability to regulate. Attached to this blog is a handout from Autism Level Up created to express someone’s level of energy. You can use these handouts to start supporting your child’s energy regulation!

  • Is your kid interested in emojis, dragons, or Pokémon? Look at their website for the energy meter with these popular characters. Think about creating your own or working with your child’s therapist to create one if your child would benefit from a different theme.
  • Create a routine for your child to practice regulation strategies when at the ‘just right’ energy level to develop skills using these strategies.
EnergyUpdate chart

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