Causes Of Anxiety And Meltdowns
Unlike their typical peers, few autistic children “throw fits” in order to garner more attention or to get a desired outcome . In most cases, autistic children react to physical or emotional stress without any particular agenda they are simply expressing feelings of excitement, frustration, or anxiety or responding to sensory assaults.
The reality is that children with autism, in general, may have less control over their emotions than their typical peers as a result, emotional explosions are more common.
It’s not always easy for a neurotypical parent to predict or even recognize situations likely to upset a child with autism. Ordinary changes in a daily routine such as a detour on the way to school can be terribly upsetting to some autistic children .
Odors such as the smell of fresh paint can be a sensory assault. Even the fluorescent lights at the grocery store can be overwhelming to certain individuals.
At the same time, however, any individual child may react differently to the same situation from day to day. An overwhelming stressor on Tuesday can be experienced as background noise on Thursday.
In general, it’s possible to predict at least some stressors and minimize them. For example:
- Very loud noises such as the sound of fireworks are easy to predict and avoid or minimize.
- Major changes in routine can be predicted, discussed, practiced, and planned for,
- Unavoidable noise and smells can be managed and planned for in advance.
Hold A Professional Development Session On Autism
Its so important to teach faculty about autism awareness, too. If youre a school administrator, consider holding a professional development session on teaching students with autism or sharing a few resources.
For example, the Regional Educational Laboratory Program has put together a helpful resource for administrators on how educators can support students with autism during remote learning.
Get Used To The Rocking Pacing And Flapping
Children on the autism spectrum frequently display behaviors known as stimming. These behaviors might include flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, spinning, or pacing. While such stimming behaviors can be distracting to both the teacher and other students, teachers would do well to realize that this type of behavior is not meant to be a distraction. Rather, its a repetitive pattern that the child finds comforting.
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Work With Their Parents/carers
Parents and carers are the true experts on their autistic children. To fully support the child in and out of school, you should therefore coordinate and share knowledge with them. Both of you can suggest interventions that have worked at home or in school for the child and can integrate these into their routine.
Not only will building a relationship benefit the autistic child, but it will also help the parents and carers feel at ease about their childs education. Your commitment to working with them will build their confidence in the schools ability to support their child.
Our Home Is Safety Proofed
Youre probably familiar with baby proofing a house. But while most families can take down the safety gates and doorknob locks once the child ages, families with children on the Autism Spectrum often have these items and more protecting their child from their homes inherent dangers. This is because many children on the Autism Spectrum are prone to behaviors that can bring about self injury.
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Like All Kids Children With Autism Have Strengths And Weaknesses
As is the case with any child in a classroom, those on the autism spectrum have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some may be excellent with memorization, but struggle with reading and sounding out words phonetically. Teachers should be prepared for a child to struggle with subjects to varying degrees .
What Causes Autistic Meltdowns
Pretty much anything can trigger an autistic meltdown. You handed your child the yellow cup instead of the green one. The block tower fell over again. His friend took the toy he wanted to play with. A sound was too loud. A tag got too scratchy. A rock got in her shoe. His hands got sweaty.
The littlest thing can send an autistic child into meltdown mode without warning. Or did we just miss the warning signs?
Many times, a meltdown is only caused after many different triggers have caused a buildup of tension. If your child is struggling with sensory overload, and their younger sibling bumps into them, it can bring their world crashing down. If a few other seemingly petty things already irritated your child, and they handled those well, the next one may be more than they can take.
Autistic meltdowns are usually caused by one of the following:
A buildup of stress can cause autistic meltdowns
Because emotional regulation is so difficult for kids with autism, stress takes longer to dissipate. When subsequent stresses occur, it adds to the pot. Every little thing can raise their temperature, and eventually the child boils over.
Sensory overload can cause autistic meltdowns
Anxiety can cause autistic meltdowns
Children with autism often battle anxiety as well. It may be caused by social struggles, unusual fears, changes in routine , or anything that makes your child feel like they have no control. The anxiety of feeling helpless can lead to autistic meltdowns.
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Easy Steps To How To Help A Child With Autism Calm Down
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When I was growing up with Autism I had a lot of meltdowns. Too many to even count. Today I am going to share with you how to help a child with autism calm down.
Why These Behaviours Happen
Many autistic children have difficulties with communication, which can affect their behaviour.
Some things that can cause these behaviours include:
- being oversensitive to things like bright lights or loud noises
- being undersensitive to things like touch or pain
- anxiety, especially when routines suddenly change
- not being able to make sense of what’s going on around them
- being unwell or in pain
These behaviours are not your or your child’s fault.
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Abrupt Changes In Behavior Usually Signify Anxiety
Living on the autism spectrum means living with a sensory system that is constantly bombarding you with information that may or may not be accurate. If you happen to notice an abrupt change in behavior in your autistic student, know that it is likely not a case of the student deciding to act naughty for attention or entertainment. Rather, he or she may be experiencing anxiety due to something in the environment.
Board Games With A Twist
Teaching children manners can be a helpful way to boost social skills and explain the importance of being polite. This simple, but effective activity puts an etiquette-related twist on a simple game of chess, checkers, or mancala by requiring players to wish their opponent good luck or good game before and after they have played.
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Amazing Autistic Meltdown Strategies
Follow these tips to help de-escalating sensory meltdowns in the future
Come up with a signal – If your son or daughter is in a classroom environment or at home come up with a signal so that you know they are beginning to have a meltdown.
Schedule in breaks – In my opinion the school days are long enough so why not schedule in breaks for the special needs classrooms for 10 min breaks? Even when your kids are home let them take breaks before the next even or task.
Keep calm and cool – I dont know if you like to be yelled at by your boss at work? But kids in general dont like getting yelled at by their hot headed parents even the kids who have Autism. Always remain calm and cool.
Make sure you pay attention – Everyone likes when everyone pays attention to them when they are talking. Even if it takes your son or daughter a few extra mins to finish a thought, dont interrupt them.
Setup a reward system – Everyone likes being rewarded, even at work. Its like when you get your promotion at your job. When your son or daughter does something good setup a reward system.
Dont overload their day – When I was in my teenager years I no longer let my mom set up doctor appointments for me. Sometimes I had back to back appointments it was so unpleasant. So dont overload your kids day.
I think the first one should be on the list on how to calm an autistic child list.
How To Use Calming Strategies For Kids With Autism At Home Or In The Classroom
First, you need to know if you are using these activities to prevent stress, hyperactivity and melt downs or if you are responding to a melt down.
I recommend planning out your days to prevent stress and hyperactivity and to also keep this post on hand for when times get tough and you need to use one of these strategies as a response to a melt down.
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Tip : Create A Personalized Autism Treatment Plan
With so many different treatments available, it can be tough to figure out which approach is right for your child. Making things more complicated, you may hear different or even conflicting recommendations from parents, teachers, and doctors.
When putting together a treatment plan for your child, keep in mind that there is no single treatment that works for everyone. Each person on the autism spectrum is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses.
Your childs treatment should be tailored according to their individual needs. You know your child best, so its up to you to make sure those needs are being met. You can do that by asking yourself the following questions:
What are my childs strengths and their weaknesses?
What behaviors are causing the most problems? What important skills is my child lacking?
How does my child learn best through seeing, listening, or doing?
What does my child enjoy and how can those activities be used in treatment and to bolster learning?
Finally, keep in mind that no matter what treatment plan is chosen, your involvement is vital to success. You can help your child get the most out of treatment by working hand-in-hand with the treatment team and following through with the therapy at home.
Causes Of Anxiety And Challenging Behaviours
If your child displays many challenging behaviours, for instance screaming non-stop, can become a very frustrating and overwhelming situation to deal with as a concerned parent. Challenging behaviours or tantrums can make it very difficult for children with autism to participate in typical activities or even prevent them from leaving their home.
Certainly, it is not an easy task to calm a child with autism but there are certain techniques on how to help them calm down. However, we need to consider how children with autism react to physical and emotional distress differently than typical children. For instance, they may not be able to say I want a toy or I dont want to do it, instead, they will throw fits to get what they want to avoid doing something they simply dont feel like doing.
Subsequently, as a result of feeling stressed, anxious, excited, frustrated, etc., they will display behaviours that we consider challenging and for them have become adaptive. You can predict some of the stressors that generate the sensory assaults that provoke the screaming such as a loud noise or a major change in their routine but some are less obvious.
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Getting Professional Help For School Refusal
You can get professional help with managing school refusal and sorting out the problems behind it.
If your child is saying they feel sick, make an appointment with your GP to check it out.
If there are no physical reasons for your child feeling sick, your GP might refer you to a paediatrician, psychiatrist or psychologist. If your child already sees one or more of these professionals, make an appointment to see them.
A psychiatrist or psychologist will usually do an assessment to see whether the school refusal is linked to issues like anxiety or depression. Therapies and supports for school refusal will probably work better if your child is also getting help for anxiety or depression.
If your child is working with a psychiatrist or psychologist, its important that the therapists and school staff communicate with each other. Its a good idea to set up a meeting between them.
Your child can get Medicare rebates for several sessions with a mental health professional if your child has a mental health treatment plan from their GP. You can also get Medicare rebates for visits to a paediatrician or psychiatrist. If your child has an NDIS plan, you could check whether the cost of psychologist sessions can be covered using your childs NDIS funding.
Techniques For Avoiding And Managing Meltdowns
Children with autism can have a tough time managing their behavior. Even high functioning children can “have a meltdown” in situations that would be only mildly challenging to a typical peer.
Children with more severe symptoms can get very upset on a daily basis. Meltdowns and anxiety can make it very hard to participate in typical activities or, in some extreme cases, to even leave the house.
It’s not always easy to calm a child with autism, but there are techniques that can often be successful. Some require a bit of extra equipment that offers sensory comfort. Some of these items can be used in settings like school or community venues. If they work well, they’re worth their weight in gold.
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin
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Working On School Refusal At Home: Practical Strategies
There are some practical things you can do at home to help your child get back to school.
Acknowledging your childs feelings
- Show your child that you understand their feelings about going to school. For example, you could say, I can see youre worried about going to school. I know its hard, but you need to go because its important for your learning and friendships. Your teacher and I will help you.
- If the problem is mainly about leaving home, explain and reassure your child that things will be OK at home. For example, You dont need to worry about Nanna, because Im here to look after her.
- Remind your child of the things they can do to feel calm, like breathing deeply, listening to a mindfulness app on the way to school, or using a fidget toy. You could use visual supports to remind your child of what to do for example, you could use pictures of these activities.
Supporting your child to build relationships
- Use role-play to help your child with social skills. For example, you could role-play how to ask someone to play during lunch. Practising what to say and how to say it builds your childs confidence to manage the situation on their own. You could also use video-modelling.
- Organise playdates for a younger child, or encourage a teenage child to invite friends over. Building stronger relationships with peers at school can help your child go to school.
Preparing your child for the school day
Sticking to school routines at home
Going to school
My Autism Meltdowns And Aggression Got Me Into Trouble
When I acted out in school I was sent to the nurses office to cool down. I was either sent there or to the principal’s office. In the nurse’s office I was put in a room with only a bench. The walls were white everything in the room was white except for the bench.
I was isolated off in a room in a nursing office. I could still hear everything because it was close quarters. This happen all the way up to beginning of high school. Looking back at those dark times in my life I wonder now if there were any other ways to calm me down.
When I was in high school when I had those meltdowns I just got sent outside the classroom or down to the principal’s office where they called my mom. Then I was grounded when I got home.
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