Questions from a NT mom about her aspie son

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Sk8
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30 Jul 2011, 7:08 pm

If someone could give me some input on how to respond to my son more effectively at the onset of a meltdown and then after the meltdown has occurred, I'd appreciate it. Also, would you please offer suggestions on what to do and what not to do before during an after the meldtown?

My son, 10 years old, is very reluctant to try any calming techniques when it becomes obvious that he is visibly upset and perhaps nearing a meltdown. Did you have a technique that helped you calm yourself yet didn't make you stand out to others so much?

Finally, after the meltdown has passed, how soon would you want to talk about a social story on what got you upset?

Thanks for any input on this issue.



NUJV
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30 Jul 2011, 7:36 pm

Does your son demand to be left alone? I'm an Aspie and I know that I did when I had tantrums when I was younger and I hated it when people looked at me, talked to me, or bothered me in any way. Most of the time Aspies will work out their own calming methods like stimming or sitting in small places after a while. Also, I don't like to dwell on episodes of anger and upset, I want them never to be mentioned again.



SammichEater
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30 Jul 2011, 7:46 pm

NUJV wrote:
Does your son demand to be left alone? I'm an Aspie and I know that I did when I had tantrums when I was younger and I hated it when people looked at me, talked to me, or bothered me in any way. Most of the time Aspies will work out their own calming methods like stimming or sitting in small places after a while. Also, I don't like to dwell on episodes of anger and upset, I want them never to be mentioned again.


Seconded.


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Sectumsempra
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30 Jul 2011, 7:55 pm

I agree with NUJV
When I was upset, I would need to be left alone to calm myself down. If people kept asking what was wrong or touched me or followed me when I went to find a quiet place it would only make me worse and I'd get scared, and normally that would result in me hurting myself.
He will probably work out something to calm himself down eventually. The best thing to do would be to let him do this in peace. He will probably talk about whatever upset him when he is ready. If people bothered me for an answer, even after I'd calmed down, it would usually set me off again.



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30 Jul 2011, 8:29 pm

Do you know what sets him off? Is it being tired, overwhelmed, or anything that is recognizable as a pattern?


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30 Jul 2011, 9:02 pm

SammichEater wrote:
NUJV wrote:
Does your son demand to be left alone? I'm an Aspie and I know that I did when I had tantrums when I was younger and I hated it when people looked at me, talked to me, or bothered me in any way. Most of the time Aspies will work out their own calming methods like stimming or sitting in small places after a while. Also, I don't like to dwell on episodes of anger and upset, I want them never to be mentioned again.


Seconded.


That's the same with me.


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Ilka
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30 Jul 2011, 9:10 pm

Unfortunately I cannot help you with this. My daughter was diagnosed with AS but she has never had a meltdown, only tantrums. I do not think leaving him to his own devices is s good idea, because he might have a meltdown at school and that would be problematic. I think you need advise from an expert. You should try a center specialized in autism.



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30 Jul 2011, 9:16 pm

I had MANY meltdowns as a child, and I continue to have them today (2-3 a day as a child, and now 2-3 a week). A meltdown differs from a temper tantrum in that it CANNOT be stopped. No calming techniques you attempt to introduce during a meltdown are going to have any impact whatsoever. Nothing my parents did helped. Yelling at me was fruitless, attempting to comfort me made me worse, threatening to take toys or events or other things away did not help at all, offering to bribe me out of the meltdown with goodies also had no effect. A meltdown is not stopped for or by concerned (and likely irritated) parents. A meltdown is also not stopped by the autistic person. For me, the meltdown passed on its own--usually once I was completely exhausted. Unfortunately, meltdowns are a part of being autistic. There might be some techniques that he can learn to PREVENT meltdowns, but once a meltdown has started, you basically have to deal with it until it is over.


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littlelily613
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30 Jul 2011, 9:22 pm

Ilka wrote:
I do not think leaving him to his own devices is s good idea, because he might have a meltdown at school and that would be problematic.


I believe your daughter is in the minority in this area as most people on the spectrum seem to have either meltdowns or shutdowns or both. A meltdown at school will stop the same way as it will at home (when it is good and ready to stop!) For the record, though, I had fewer meltdowns at school than at home, and when they came at school I usually knew to go somewhere private. A good way to make a meltdown even worse is to attempt to talk or physically "comfort" a person out of one.


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btbnnyr
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30 Jul 2011, 9:59 pm

Agree with what has been said about leaving him alone during the meltdowns, figuring out the triggers, and preventing the meltdowns. What was it about the social stories that set him off? Also don't apply the standard methods of support. Nothing coming in from the outside is going to help during a meltdown. It will be like adding fuel to the fire. Support feels like oppression and will almost always worsen an existing meltdown or trigger a building meltdown.



Foxyglamarchist
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30 Jul 2011, 10:47 pm

the best thing you can do as he's warming up is provide him with space. Lowered lights, white noise, and a break from interaction. Outside of the home an mp3 player and sunglasses can substitute. A lot of meltdowns and shut downs are triggered by sensory issues. If you are trying to do active learning while he's distracted by something he's hearing, smelling, seeing, etc. you are going to have problems. During non escalated times have him start identifying and cataloging his sensory input. Sometimes just identifying the stimulus will help. Especially if a new stimulus come along his brain isn't going to be pulled in a million different directions. Getting the tools to apply analytical thinking about triggers is enormously useful for anyone on the spectrum or not.



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31 Jul 2011, 2:54 am

Foxyglamarchist wrote:
the best thing you can do as he's warming up is provide him with space. Lowered lights, white noise, and a break from interaction. Outside of the home an mp3 player and sunglasses can substitute. A lot of meltdowns and shut downs are triggered by sensory issues. If you are trying to do active learning while he's distracted by something he's hearing, smelling, seeing, etc. you are going to have problems. During non escalated times have him start identifying and cataloging his sensory input. Sometimes just identifying the stimulus will help. Especially if a new stimulus come along his brain isn't going to be pulled in a million different directions. Getting the tools to apply analytical thinking about triggers is enormously useful for anyone on the spectrum or not.

This definitely makes sense to me. Also, when I struggled with interacting other people, usually my peers, did mistakes, or was criticized for something harshly or loudly, I was prone to have a meltdown.

My mother used to teach me to count from 1 to 10 before I do something out of impetus, which was basically a method to prevent an immediate and much harsher response to a trigger that would otherwise cause a tantrum-ish meltdown.



Diamorphine
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31 Jul 2011, 7:21 am

Just leave him alone. When I was a kid, someone trying to calm me down during a tantrum made me even angrier.



Artros
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31 Jul 2011, 7:58 am

btbnnyr wrote:
Agree with what has been said about leaving him alone during the meltdowns, figuring out the triggers, and preventing the meltdowns. What was it about the social stories that set him off? Also don't apply the standard methods of support. Nothing coming in from the outside is going to help during a meltdown. It will be like adding fuel to the fire. Support feels like oppression and will almost always worsen an existing meltdown or trigger a building meltdown.


I'd go with this route. I think most people find a way to deal with things on their own (I don't think I experience actual meltdowns, but if I feel overloaded, I do have my ways of dealing with it). Solitude is generally favoured. If he has something which comforts him very much (a favourite toy, a teddybear or something like that), this can help as well. You can also try discussing the meltdowns without actually mentioning them. Don't talk about "what should I do to help when you get angry or upset" but talk about "what makes you feel comfortable" or something like that.



Sk8
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31 Jul 2011, 6:13 pm

Thanks for the input that it is more effective to merely leave him alone without a dialogue about it. Got it. What about school? He has some pretty rough days. I seem to spend much of my time fighting with the school to stop mis-labeling my son as merely a defiant boy who won't listen. His triggers in school are usually over difficult peers--either kids he doesn't get along with or kids who may overstep my son's personal space. An example:

My son brought a Wimpy Kid (make your own diary book) to school and had kept it in his desk. He left it on top his desk and turned around to find another student had it and was looking though it. There was a struggle for my son to get the book back and when my son did get the book back he hit the other kid with it. The teacher was in the back of the room and while he didn't see the incident, he called the principal and my son was taken to her office.

While this is one example, I wonder what advice you would give a kid in elementary school about having meltdowns or tantrums? What would you tell them to tell their friends or classmates if they're asked about that behavior after they've witnessed one of their meltdowns? I appreciate all input. Thank you.