Help your Autistic Child Recover From a MeltdownPosted: November 28, 2011
When your autistic child has a meltdown or ‘melt’, he literally loses control of himself and his behavior. It is not a tantrum, as he cannot control his actions; it is a total loss of control of emotions and behavior and must run its course. As a parent, you must ensure the safety of your child and others during this time. You may have to leave him alone or you may have to restrain him for his own safety, depending on where he has his meltdown.
If you are at home, it is easier to handle because you’ll have more control of the safety of the environment in your own home. In public, you have little control of the environment and the people in it, which may force you to remove him from the area. Learning the triggers to your child’s meltdowns can help you to teach him to control himself and eventually, maybe even prevent them. Until then, you need to assist him in the recovery every time he has a meltdown.
The methods by which your child recovers may depend on the reason the melt started. It can be stimulation overload, loud noises, bright lights, other children, frustration or the child may want something he is not allowed to have. If you can pinpoint the trigger, this might help you to find the best solution to the recovery. Removing the child from the triggering event may also shorten its duration, however after the melt, your child will need a calm down time.
A melt uses a lot of energy and your child may be totally exhausted. You may be stressed as well, because you have gone through the melt with him. To aid in the recovery, here are some things you can do to help calm both of you:
- If your child likes to be held, this would be the time for a long, loving hug!
- A relaxing massage of the arms, legs, and back could be helpful.
- If he has a favorite song, you can sing to them.
- Speak to them in a soft voice and calm manner.
- Tell them a favorite story.
- If they wanted something reasonable, consider giving it to them to shorten or prevent a melt.
- Some autistic children do not like to be touched, and may enjoy being left alone. If your child likes solitude, it may be helpful to leave him alone in the safety of his room for awhile and let him calm himself.
- You can use some of the methods above in combination, like hugging and softly singing to him or playing music and singing with him.
These calming techniques can be helpful for you, as well. Every autistic child is different, and just as they react differently to stimuli, they also will recover differently. Once you’ve learned what causes his meltdowns and what hastens his recovery you can then try different calm-down methods and find the best ways to assist your child to a safe recovery.