I have to admit that it is easy to take meltdowns personally.
To feel as though the whole thing is directed at you.
Like it is your fault.
The hurt and anguish as you see your child out of control and wish you could have prevented it.
The physical pain you feel as a result of exploding rage and frustration.
It feels like the worst pain imaginable.
You forget the basics……I forget the basics.
It is easy to overlook the Autism when you see the whirlwind of a meltdown take over your child.
It feels personal, it feels like it is in their control…..
….but it is not. I know that; I forget that.
An Autism meltdown is scary.
It builds up without much warning, it comes in a fierce torrent, leaves its mark.
And then silence.
Ear piercing silence.
The child regaining control, the caregiver trying to process the events.
Reassuring words spoken……the day goes on.
Chances are if you know a child with Autism, you would have witnessed one.
It is a complete loss of behavioural control.
Screaming, shouting, kicking, breaking things, self harming, hurting others, running away….
…the child has gone….far beyond a point of reaching them.
Autism has taken them.
To the untrained eye it looks like the worst behaviour you may have ever witnessed.
It is every kind of manipulation, anger and loss of control you could ever imagine.
Whilst it looks like it is, it is not intentional.
The child has lost all control.
To them their world is ending.
Usually triggered by Sensory overload, Change of Routine, Information overload, Too many demands being places on them, Anxiety, Communication Difficulties or a combination of the above, they can be terrifying.
Terrifying for both the child and the caregiver.
You are rendered useless as you see your child beyond reach.
When my child suddenly explodes when I give a green cup instead of red, that will not be the real reason.
That was the cherry on the cake, the straw that broke the camels back.
The meltdown would have been building, and that cup was the last thing they could control.
They lost that control……boom.
An explosion of anger, anxiety, frustration….
I make the mistake of trying to reason with a child in meltdown, I think it will make things better, it just makes things worse.
My instinct is to make it all better, it is ingrained in me to provide all my child needs.
When you have a child with Autism you almost need to unlearn some basic rules of parenting.
Talking to a child and trying to calm them during a meltdown just adds to their sensory overload.
The best way to deal with a meltdown is to defuse it before it happens because once it has started all you can do is keep safe and wait it out.
If you can learn to recognise the signs of a meltdown approaching, if you can learn the potential triggers, if you can find a distraction technique that works for your child, if you can learn to pick your battles, you can start to steer the meltdowns away.
Of course, you cannot always do this.
Sometimes it goes from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds.
The most important thing to remember is although you may get hurt, horrid things may be said, your belongings may get broken, it is not intended behaviour.
You may feel hurt from the things you have witnessed, but the child has feelings of remorse too.