Autistic Meltdowns

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Authored by: Maria Borde


Written by: Mountain of Sand - 27th Jul, 2014 - 2:07am Autism Issues
Dealing with meltdowns are perhaps one of the hardest things to deal with when you have three kids in the spectrum because when you need to see about calming one of them, the other two get meltdowns of their own because of the noise, screams and shouts the first one is making. It is even harder if out of the blue, one of them has a meltdown in the middle of the mall or the grocery store.

In the past, I was always concerned about the fact that people would stare at us. Of course, they would stare and give you judgmental "Looks" and on several occasions even approach you to tell you that the child needs "Licks" and they would attempt to give you a crash-course on how to parent your own child, even after you mention the word "Autism".

I cannot blame them entirely, I think if I didn't have any kids with special needs, I would probably be one of those people looking from far away and thinking they have everything figure out, when in reality they don't have a clue. Perhaps, I need to invest in some of those shirts you see online that says: "I am autistic, what is your excuse?". Having said that, there are also a few people who even though they cannot relate to what you are dealing with, they are helpful or they try to be understanding and accommodating.

Some time ago, we went out for a little bit. Our middle son loves to ride in maxi-taxis. He is usually very quiet during the trip; it is something that soothes him and he always look forward to it. We didn't have any other choice that day but to take a taxi (H car) back to our home. When his eyes met the car, he was a little reluctant. We tried to convince him to get in and he did but all of the sudden he just had a huge meltdown while the car was already in the road. He was screaming, shouting, biting, kicking, scratching, including kicking the door open while standing at a traffic light. My husband tried his best to control his behavior so he didn't hurt himself or others and then.. Our youngest started to behave in the exact same way when he saw his brother acting out like that so I had to also keep him under control.

Just imagine, two children in the spectrum in a taxi shouting, screaming and crying like if they were being kidnapped by terrorists. Cars passing next to us were watching us like if we were kidnapping the children; I was praying nobody call the police.

We tried our best to explain the taxi driver what was happening, he was very understanding and we paid him extra for the inconvenience. We had to stop the taxi at a certain location and take a maxi-taxi back home so they could down and they finally did. Our middle son got into the maxi and sat down like nothing ever happened.

This is one of the things about autism. After a huge meltdown and once they are somewhat back to normal, they act like nothing happened while of course, you probably lost all your hair, you are in tears and of course, stressed beyond comprehension. A successful family outing for me is one without meltdowns or one where we can all finish our meals.

Going to the grocery store with both of them at the same time, proved to be a challenge as well. When they are together they seem to feed from each other, so if we have no choice but to go in with both of them (Usually when we need two or three items), we cannot use a trolley or a basket, we have to carry the few items in our hands because otherwise they start fighting and having a meltdown over what exactly you put in the trolley.

If you happen to have neuro-typical kids, you just go around doing things naturally without much thought, but when you have kids in the spectrum you need to pause, stop and think just before you act, how exactly is my child going to react if I do X? How exactly is he going to be affected if I do Y?

You must be reading all this and thinking how do you guys do it, autism + 3? I don't know. I sincerely do not know. I have my days and at night, I try to relax a bit: eat something nice and watch a movie or something that makes me laugh. I need a few laughs because it gives me the strength to deal with how the day is going to be tomorrow.

When you are raising three kids in the spectrum, your goals aren't about what is going to happen in a month's time or next year or in the next ten years"¦your goal is to make it another day in the best way possible, trying your best to help, teach and serve your kids without going insane in the process.

We see improvements, sometimes those improvements seem to be too slow for our liking, but we remain positive and hopeful that all the things we do for our kids will have an impact on them and they will learn and be able to succeed in life. Because you see, when everyone else dreams with their children's future as doctors, engineers, lawyers and they are preparing their kids to accomplish such great goals, we are also raising our kids to accomplish a great goal: That they can live independently one day when we are no longer here.

For some, it may seem so little and insignificant"¦but for us, it is the biggest and most challenging goal in our lives. And we hope"¦we hope for a brighter future ahead of us and we dream with the day when we are very, very old and we can see them coming to our home with a big smile on their face saying: Mom.. Dad.. Guess what? We made it.
Written by: Guest - 27th Jul, 2014 - 3:19am Mountain of Sand Blog Archive
Name: Michelle

Comments: I understand so much about the judgmental looks. Initially it hurt me much more than my son's behavior. I felt as though I was a complete failure as a mom. As I learnt more about Asperger's, which is my son's diagnosis, I have become so oblivious to the stares and unstated judgment. I have sat on the ground in the middle of the mall trying to calm my son and that is my only priority.

But I have also been touched by the kindness of strangers. Last year, I took my son to the mall around Christmas time. Usually I try to avoid the larger crowds and try to get in and out before lunchtime. But things didn't work out and we were there for the larger crowds. Big mistake! My son couldn't handle the noise, the people! I was loaded down with bags, so I couldn't lift him. I kept begging him to hurry so we could get to the car. I tried bribing him, threatening him, everything. Eventually I had to drop all the bags and was sitting on the ground in the middle of Gulf City mall, hugging him and trying to get him to calm down.

After about 15 minutes, I saw a man walking directly towards us. He didn't say a word to me, but sat next to us and started talking to my son. He asked him about our Christmas tree and what he wanted from Santa, then pulled out a toy truck. My son calmed down instantly from a few moments with this stranger, who took the time to simply distract him.

I am so thankful for angels like this man.
Written by: Guest - 27th Jul, 2014 - 3:27am Mountain of Sand Blog Archive
Name: Sarah

Comments: I have a daughter with autism who is non-verbal. Life is very hard and often times reading stories like yours help me put things into perspective. She gets meltdowns on a daily basis, she hates to brush her teeth or dress. Going out is also very difficult because she has many sensory issues and you all know how our own people (Trinis) can be when they see a child having a meltdown in a public place.
Written by: Guest - 27th Jul, 2014 - 2:30pm Mountain of Sand Blog Archive
Name: Solmer

Comments: My personality is such that public opinion means little to me. And I look a little mean so people usually won't say a word to me if Kelton is having a meltdown.

His biggest trigger is a baby crying, or making any sort of noise really. It sets him off. In Pizza Hut, they put a family with a baby in the next booth, of course the child cried, Kelton snapped, threw back his head, connected with the glass window, and that was the end of lunch sad.gif

I think it's hard for people to understand what's going on, especially with autism where children usually look NT. Glad to know that there are still good people in the world, and it's usually not the ones we expect.
Written by: Mountain of Sand - 27th Jul, 2014 - 2:42pm Autism Issues
Solmer, Jonah has the exact same problem. Sometime ago we went to a jungle gym and they were playing very nicely until a little one came and started to scream to the top of his lungs.The mother was there watching the boy but did not stop him and Jonah and Seth had a huge meltdowns and we had to leave in the middle of the rain.

My oldest who is high-functioning explained to the mother of this boy why his brothers were behaving like that but she did not take us on.

Michelle, what a great story! Sometimes there are people out there who are willing to help and be understanding. I am so grateful for compassionate souls.

Sara, I know what you mean. I think our culture focus a lot on discipline so when they see a child who they think is "Misbehaving" They think "Licks" Are the only solution, autistic or not.
Written by: Guest - 28th Jul, 2014 - 3:00am Mountain of Sand Blog Archive
Name: Sasha

Comments: You have such a positive approach towards your three children. I don't know how you survive, I only have one child and it's sometimes so frustrating but I try to cope and hope that he can lead an independent life.
Written by: Guest - 28th Jul, 2014 - 11:59pm Mountain of Sand Blog Archive
Name: Esther

Comments: Wow, 3 children with autism? You are Super-Mom! I have a 6 year old boy in the spectrum and he's my only child, I live in Central but overall I think Trinidad has little to offer for kids with autism. Anthony had a huge meltdown last year in Movie Towne, he dislikes anything related to artificial lights and babies crying.


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