How Can I Deal With An Autistic Meltdown
Autistic meltdowns are a response to the mind or body feeling overwhelmed. They may appear to happen without warning.
All children have meltdowns, but if your child has autism these may be stronger and more frequent. Your child may also need more recovery time. Some of the normal calming strategies may not be effective. But learning about what causes your childs meltdowns and how to calm them can help you to support your child.
Meltdowns are different to tantrums, which are a response to a child not being able to do what they want.
Focus On Your Child Not Staring Bystanders
Meltdowns for any child can get noisy, but they tend to go to a whole other level of loud when its a child with autism.
These outbursts can feel embarrassing to parents when were in public and everyone is staring at us.
We feel the judgment from some saying, Id never let my kid act like that.
Or worse, we feel like our deepest fears are validated: People think were failing at this whole parenting thing.
Next time you find yourself in this public display of chaos, ignore the judgmental looks, and quiet down that fearful inner voice saying youre not enough. Remember that the person who is struggling and needs your support the most is your child.
Self Calming Strategies And Techniques For Kids With Autism
Learning calming strategies and techniques for autism meltdowns is necessary as a parent and caregiver. It helps us help our children in any given situation. Over time, you will learn and implement many calming strategies. Some may be beneficial for a shorter period of time and others will be used throughout the lifespan.
We certainly have our tried and true techniques that have served our family very well. Then there are others that we have tried that just didnt work. Its all about being willing to try and to see what will help. As my daughter grew older, we started to incorporate more self calming strategies for autism.
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Children On The Autism Spectrum Are Not Dumb
Kids with autism have the potential to be absolutely brilliant. Theyre also talented, philosophical, kind, and creative. This is something much of society fails to see, but in truth, the autistic mind is simply wired differently than those not on the Autism Spectrum. Hans Christian Andersen, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Michelangelo, Mozart, and Sir Isaac Newton all are said to have exhibited autistic tendencies.
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Teach Self Calming Techniques
It is essential that your child or students learn to calm down on their own. Of course, you want to be there to help guide them through calm down when they experience complicated emotions or begin to feel overwhelmed, but wouldnt it be even better if they had their own calming strategies they could use on their own?
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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.
Tip : Get Them Sensory Toys To Help Lower Anxiety
There are many options online, from squeezy balls, soft clay, toys with bright colours or simply toys with textures. Youll be amazed at all the options out there.
Very often, your child will show signs of distress before they go into a full tantrum or a meltdown. Identify, by reading the situation/context, if your child is angry, anxious, or just having a sensory overload. These types of toys are said to be helpful to help children with sensory overloads to lower their anxiety.
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Eight Ways To Calm Autism
Professionals say a little anxiety now and then is natural, and even good for us. But anxiety that interferes with daily life as it does for some children who have special needs or are on the autism spectrum is not. Here are a few tried-and-true techniques for calming feelings of anxiety in children with autism.
Sensory Toys & Gifts At Carmen B Pingree
At Carmen B. Pingree, we understand the sensory difficulties children with autism may face, which is why we have occupational therapists that will guide children and parents through different options to support their children with hypersensitivity or hypo-sensitivity to sensory stimuli. We incorporate the use of sensory toys when appropriate to supplement our primary treatment modalities as well. The use of toys that help engage a childs various senses can help them learn and become more familiar with these senses in a safe and natural play environment.
If you have any questions about our autism programs, contact us today! We are dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment, education, and related services for children with autism and their families.
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How To Support Your Child
Taking steps to support your child may reduce or prevent meltdowns. It can help to:
- Have a visual system to show them whats coming up that day. Timetables or visual timers can be useful.
- Use emotion thermometers or labelling to help communicate.
- Be consistent. Put routines in place. Make sure your child knows when things are happening. Try to keep the routines every day.
- Think about how you will support your child if unexpected events happen.
- Help you child understand what to expect in certain situations. Social Stories can support with this.
How To Make A Calm Down Kit For Kids With Autism
Wondering how to make a Calm Down Kit for Kids with Autism? Looking for Calm Down Box ideas? Ive got you covered! I use Calm Down Boxes in my coaching programs all the time. They will be a valuable calming, sensory tool for your child or students. Calm Down Kits are easy to make and so helpful in regulating emotions and helping kids with autism calm down and focus. Make a sensory bin next!
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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.
How To Deal With Autistic Meltdowns
When your son or daughter has an Autism meltdown do you know what to do? I wouldnt recommend putting them in a room by themselves. Here are some alternative ideas that may help you.
boy resting his head against his arms
Ask me why I am getting frustrated before it gets out of control: when I got frustrated I started getting out of control. I dont remember why but I wish someone asked me why I was getting frustrated before it got out of hand. When someone asks me whats wrong I feel like they care about my well being.
bearded man having coffee in a coffee shop with a lady
Let me take a break: there are certain things that just overwhelm me to a point where I need to take a break. Perhaps if I was able to take a break to clear my head during class, maybe I wouldnt have behaved the way I did. I find this to help me when I am feeling frustrated when the bullies made fun of my autistic learning challenges.
Now that I am an adult I still take breaks before the next thing on my schedule. It just gives me a transition period to go from one activity or event to the next.
women wearing an orange dress planning out her schedule in her calendar
In my opinion switching the electives up each semester was annoying to me because I dont like change. Change has never been easy to me.
mime wearing sunglasses leaning against another person
women in a red shirt staring straight ahead
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Why Do We Need Calming Strategies For Kids With Autism
Calm down techniques are essential for instilling peace, harmony and joy in your home or classroom. Using calming activities for kids in the classroom is crucial for providing a calm, structured and relaxing environment for your students. Using calm down strategies at home, will make for a happier and more peaceful day for your child and the whole family.
We Are Incredibly Lonely
For all of the reasons already listed, its easy to see why being the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum is a lonely experience. Parents are with their children all the time. Many will be with them for the rest of their life. That makes joining a community of friends incredibly difficult. Divorce rates amongst parents of children on the Autism Spectrum is especially high. If youre a friend of a parent of an autistic child, ask that parent if theyre okay. Ask if they need something, or if you can help with anything. Showing them theyre not as alone as they may feel will go a long way in brightening their day.
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Work Out Those Worries
Melissa St. John is owner and founder of Meli Music, a private music therapy company that provides services around the greater Los Angeles area. PHOTO COURTESY JOSH ROMINE
Finding a form of exercise that fits your childs abilities and interests can provide a calming experience or an outlet for excessive energy.
Some children with autism, or those with sensory systems that arent giving them adequate information, enjoy the feel of water. Water has a very calming effect, especially warmer water, says Alethea Crespo, director of therapy programs at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.
Or play could be more active. Sue Trautman, co-owner of the Center for Developing Kids in Pasadena, recommends purposeful play such as kicking around a ball. Or, says Crespo, a parent could pretend-joust with their Star Wars lightsaber-wielding child. While a child runs around shouting Im Luke Skywalker! theyre improving their agility and getting exercise in a fun, child-directed activity.
How To Calm An Autistic Child Quickly
If youre new to autism and want to know how to calm an autistic child as quickly as possible, I encourage you to keep 2 things in mind before you do anything:
Of course, managing autistic meltdowns goes above and beyond understanding and compassion, and while no 2 individuals with autism are the same, and each respond to different calming strategies and techniques, this collection of ideas offers some great pointers on how to calm an autistic child quickly.
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Tip : Find Help And Support
Caring for a child with ASD can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isnt ever easy, and raising a child with special needs is even more challenging. In order to be the best parent you can be, its essential that you take care of yourself.
Dont try to do everything on your own. You dont have to! There are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support:
ADS support groups Joining an ASD support group is a great way to meet other families dealing with the same challenges you are. Parents can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many parents feel after receiving a childs diagnosis.
Respite care Every parent needs a break now and again. And for parents coping with the added stress of ASD, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks.
A Temper Tantrum Is Not An Autism Meltdown
A temper tantrum usually occurs when a child is denied what they want to have or what they want to do.
Parents observe many tantrums during the terrible twos. This occurs when young children are developing problem-solving skills and beginning to assert their independence.
In fact, this terrible twos stage is typically experienced between 12 months through 4 years old!
When you look at why temper tantrums occur at this stage, it is important to consider typical development and why toddlers are so easily frustrated:
- Emerging desire to become independent, but limited motor skills and cognitive skills make it impossible to actually BE independent.
- Emerging, developing language skills make communicating wants/needs frustrating.
- The prefrontal cortex of the brain has not yet developed – this is the brain center responsible for emotional regulation and social behavior – so they do not have the ability to regulate!
- Toddlers are developing an understanding of their world, and its often anxiety-producing. This anxiety and lack of control often result in tantrums when it all gets to be too much to manage.
A hallmark of a tantrum is that the behavior will usually persist if the child gains attention for his behavior, but will subside when ignored.
When parents give in to tantrum outbursts, children are more likely to repeat the behavior the next time they are denied what they want or need.
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How Would It Feel To Be : : : :
Next time you read a book to your class, try asking your students how it would feel to be the main character in the story. If youre reading a picture book about Cinderella, for example, you could ask how they would feel if they had two evil stepsisters who were mean to them. Or if youre reading Peter Pan as a class, you could ask them what happy memories they would think about to fly with magic pixie dust.
This can help students with autism learn empathy as well as how to see situations in their lives from another perspective. It can also teach them how to recognize emotional cues by encouraging them to put themselves in the perspective of another person.
A Good Treatment Plan Will:
- Build on your childs interests.
- Offer a predictable schedule.
- Teach tasks as a series of simple steps.
- Actively engage your childs attention in highly structured activities.
- Provide regular reinforcement of behavior.
- Involve the parents.
Choosing autism treatments
There are many different options and approaches to ASD treatment, including behavior therapy, speech-language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nutritional therapy.
While you dont have to limit your child to just one treatment at a time, its unlikely youll be able to address everything at once. Instead, start by focusing on your childs most severe symptoms and pressing needs.
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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.