There is a point of anger or anxiety that a child can reach, when calming techniques don’t work. This is when the child is in meltdown. There is a point of no return where the child’s brain and body is in ‘fight or flight’ mode. Reasoning with the child or trying to calm them down will not work as the “downstairs brain” is in primitive survival mode and the “upstairs (thinking) brain” is inhibited (see Upstairs, Downstairs‘). ‘Fight’ may manifest as aggression, verbal abuse, throwing things, kicking etc as the child tries to release the adrenalin and stress hormones in their bloodstream. ‘Flight’ is when the child runs off to their bedroom or engages in other escape behaviours. Your priority at this point should be the child’s safety. If they are safe it is best to leave them to calm down, as following them and trying to engage them may exacerbate the situation. Never take anything they say personally when the child is in this frame of mind.
So how do we know if a child is in meltdown or just having a tantrum? Easy, ASD expert Sue Larkey says. bribery doesn’t work. If you were frightened of mice and a mouse was next to your kitchen sink, would bribery make you walk up to the mouse?
When your child is calm you can talk to them about the trigger (although they may not know why it happened. It could be cumulative effect of many things), and about ways they can deal with their anger and anxiety in the future, as well as strategies they can use.
Learn to recognise the child’s triggers and early warning signs. These are very individual and different for every child. Redirect them before the point of no return and teach them ways to recognise their own early signs and methods they can use to self-soothe.
When a person is stressed, they often “revert to habits”, so teach them good habits for dealing with their low level anxiety or frustration and they will eventually learn to do this automatically before they reach the point of no return.
Just like any kind of sensory processing, emotional processing happens automatically and varies from person to person. Continue reading
It could happen at the grocery store. At a restaurant. At school. At home. Meltdowns are stressful for both child and adult, but Dr. Baker can help! His 20+ years of experience have yielded time-tested strategies, and amazing results. An easy-to-follow, four-step model will improve your everyday relationships with the children in your life: Managing your own emotions by adjusting your expectations, Learning strategies to calm a meltdown in the moment, Understanding why a meltdown occurs, and Creating plans to prevent future meltdowns.
via No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-control Behavior.
Carol Gray’s “Social Stories[trademark]” are not only familiar throughout the autism community, but they have become an absolute necessity for parents and educators. Carol Gray pioneered this method of teaching social skills through structured stories and her method is now a standard in special needs education. With the exponential growth of children being diagnosed with autism (and the number of adults who support them), the need for this book is increasing by the minute. Now, with a revamped format and over 50 per cent more stories, this classic will reenter the market with a bang. Since the early 90s, Carol Gray’s world-famous “Social Stories[trademark]” have helped thousands of children with autism spectrum disorders. This 10th Anniversary edition of her best-selling book offers the ready-to-use stories that parents and educators have depended on for years, but now features over 25 additional “Social Stories”, groundbreaking new strategies for creating custom stories, and a modern design complete with full-color photos. Developed through years of experience, these strategically written stories explain social situations in a way children with autism understand, while teaching the social skills children need to be successful at home, at school, and in the community.
via The New Social Story Book.
My son’s occupational therapist recommended a program called ‘The Alert Program‘ based around the book ‘How Does Your Engine Run‘ by Williams and Shellenberger. This is an excellent program for teaching self awareness and emotional regulation. This is an area where many children struggle. If they are aware of their body states and emotions they are more able to do something about it. Continue reading