I’m going to discuss a topic that I’ve talked about in the past, but recently Konnor had a big meltdown and I want to go through what that was like from a parent’s perspective to give everybody an idea of what I was thinking.
As I’ve said in the past, meltdowns are different from tantrums. A tantrum is something that is preventative, and that you are able to stop if necessary. A meltdown is not easily controlled and not easy to prevent.
We were sitting at my mom and dad’s house the other day and Konnor was in another room playing on the computer while we talked around the table. I heard Konner having some minor screams and rage issues so I kept going in to check on him.
Each time everything seem to be going okay. I could calm him down pretty quickly. There were some issues with the computer that seemed to be setting him off.
One particular time Konner started screaming and my niece went in to check on him. After a couple seconds I realized that she wasn’t going to be able to control the situation, so I went to check on him.
It was at that point I realized we were in full meltdown mode. Konnor was screaming uncontrollably, and when I went to grab him he started pushing me away and swatting at me with his hands.
He had that glazed look in his eyes. This is a look i’ve often talked about. If you have a child with autism and they’ve had a meltdown you’ll know this look.
This is one of the most helpless times for a parent with a child on the spectrum. You know at this point that there’s not much you can do to console the child. You can try the different techniques like hugging, joint compressions, and breathing, but once the glaze goes over the eyes there’s no turning back.
It was at this point that I grabbed Konnor and remove him from the computer area. I pulled him away a little bit so that he no longer can break the computer, and as I grabbed him he started hitting himself in the face.
This was new. While Konnor has scratched himself, and done some minor hitting, This time he was actually punching himself in the face with both fists, and if I grabbed one he would hit himself with the other one.
Once I grabbed his arms to keep him from hitting himself he broke away and started hitting me, which is fine, I can take it, but I don’t want that to happen to someone else. I would rather him hit me than to injure himself, so I wanted to make sure that he knew that this was an okay choice at this point. The whole time I was trying to get him to calm down.
Rule number one with a child in meltdown mode: you’re not really going to get them to calm down until they calm themselves down. Most times you just have to let it run its course. I know this is a tough thing, and I know it is one of the hardest, most helpless feelings in the world. However, there comes a point where there’s no controlling them. You can try the pressure techniques. You can try the joint compressions. You can try all the tricks in the book, but you’re not going to control them until they work their way through it themselves.
Well this was one of the worst meltdowns he’s had in a long time. It was also quickly resolved. I just tried to talk calmly to him, which is unusual because sometimes I begin to lose control myself when I can’t help him. I just kept telling him it was going to be okay. I kept trying joint compressions which wasn’t working. I kept trying to get him to leave. I didn’t know if there was something in that room or in the house triggering the meltdown. I didn’t know if it were just a situation that was causing it. We changed medicines with him, and that could’ve been causing some of the issues but I had no idea.
I just wanted to get him isolated, calm him down, and get him to a familiar place like home or my vehicle.
All of this seemed to work pretty well, though the next time it could not. You never can tell with a child on the spectrum from one meltdown to another. You just have to use trial and error.
If you’re confused about some of the topics I talked about in this column like joint compressions and the pressure techniques you can check out some past articles on Blogger.com/pervasiveparenting
I’m not sure if any of this will help you pervasive parents out there. I hope it will, but I also just want you to know that you’re not alone.That helpless feeling comes to all of us when the meltdown strikes, and we don’t know what’s causing it or how to make it stop.