Strategies for Parents to Deal with a Meltdown
If you are a parent of a typically developing child, you have surely experienced the tantrums that came along with denying your child that candy bar right before dinner or making them do their homework when they wanted to be outside playing with their friends. However, if you are a parent of a child with autism, it is less likely that you can predict what will trigger behavioral and emotional meltdowns.
Many individuals believe that the words “meltdown” and “tantrum” mean the same thing. Although they may seem very similar, they are in fact very different, and it is important to understand these differences. Knowing the differences can help you learn how to best calm down your child and to respond in a manner that better supports them.
In autism, sensory input floods your child’s brain and once that happens, some experts believe that your child’s fight-or-flight response is triggered. The body perceives the inputs as threats and overflow occurs in the form of crying, yelling, lashing out or running away. Essentially, it is a breakdown of self-control.
A majority of children with autism will display signs of distress before having a meltdown, which is sometimes referred to as the rumbling stage (the first stage of a meltdown). You may notice your child exhibiting signs of anxiety such as pacing, repetitive questioning or rocking back and forth. At this stage, there may still be a chance to prevent a meltdown.
Read on to learn more about the strategies for parents to manage their child’s meltdown.