Meltdowns are not the same as tantrums for children with autism. When your child experiences sensory overload, which is over-stimulation of one or more senses, it can trigger a highly emotional reaction that the child has no control over. Dismissing a meltdown as a typical tantrum can have a negative impact on your child’s emotions. It is important to remember that what works for one child may not work for another. Regardless of what technique you use, it is crucial to always be patient and understanding with your child. Here are a few tips that may help your child through a meltdown.
Identify and Remove Sensory Triggers
It is important to be aware of your child’s sensory sensitivities, so you will be prepared to act if a meltdown occurs. You are most likely already aware of what triggers your child’s meltdown, so if you can, it is best to remove the trigger as quickly as possible. For instance, if your child is sensitive to noise while out in public, encourage them to wear noise-canceling headphones. It is also a good idea to keep track of what stimuli makes the meltdown worse.
Create a Safe Environment
Your first priority is to remove any triggers from your child. Whether that be turning off the lights or leaving a store, you want your child to feel safe and comfortable. Create a quiet, cozy environment using blankets and toys to help calm your child. If you cannot do so, simply cradle your child and be empathetic towards their feelings as they calm down.
Remove Dangerous Objects
You must remove any objects from the area that could harm your child. This includes everything from sharp objects to hard toys which your child may throw. It is best to move your child to a room or space free of clutter and other people. However, simply isolating your child is not enough. To prevent injury during a meltdown, you will need to watch your child closely until they have calmed down.
Keep Yourself Calm
As a parent, it is crucial that you remain calm when your child is experiencing a meltdown. If you respond to their stress with a high emotional reaction of your own, it could further trigger your child. Take a few deep breaths and speak in a soft, calm voice. Remind yourself that your child takes top priority and do what is necessary to help your child thrive.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.