What is an Autism Related Meltdown?
A child with Autism can be very prone to meltdowns in public and unfamiliar places. Meltdowns can be described as a tantrum or fit of rage as the child may be confused or stressed due over loaded sensory inputs or an unfamiliar place and situation.
An Autistic or ASD meltdown can be difficult to control and can be a very emotional trauma for both the ASD child / person and the carer. It can also put the ASD child / person and carer in danger of personal injury purely from a reaction to a situation, event or even emotional vibes.
To add to the drama of a meltdown in public places there is always the onlookers and concerned individuals. It is only human nature to be concerned if a child / person is acting in a manner which may be perceived as if the person is in danger or in trouble. It would be a sad world if this wasn’t the case, as in a recent event in China where a small child was hit by a vehicle and ignored on the street by passers by. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15331773.
I recall when Isybee was just 3 or 4 years old, one of the first outings we had in a busy shopping centre, the surroundings, lights, noise and crowd was too much for her to handle and she had a meltdown. For passers by it would have seemed as if we were trying to harm her or kidnap her, people were trying to intervene and looked upset and concerned, we felt like we had to try and explain that our daughter was Autistic, however at the time your focus is on calming the child. Some even went as far as commenting on what terrible parents we were. We ignored them however it still affects you.
Coping with an Awkward Situation
So how do you go about coping with these sort of situations? Everyone would have their own way of dealing with such an event, and you have to quickly learn to not let others perceptions bother you. You could try and avoid outings, social gatherings or anywhere where there might be a chance of the ASD child having a meltdown, however at some stage you will have no choice and at some stage you will need to accustom the child with Autism to everyday living situations and slowly modify their behaviour by making them feel comfortable and understanding what is going on around them. Here are some tips on Exposing an Autistic Child to Social Events and Outings.
One clever way we found to handle onlookers and concerned citizens when a meltdown or perceived disruptive behaviour occurs by your miss-understood child with Autism, is to hand out an Autism Awareness card that gives in brief, an explanation of why the child is in this state. It can be a very effective way of communicating without having to go into verbal explanations and allows you to focus and deal with the task at hand – calming your child! See example below.
Print Your Own Autism Awareness Cards
We made up the Autism Awareness cards into a template which can be printed out into business card style and size cards. These can be printed out directly by any home Ink Jet or Laser printer using the IJ39 Business Cards format which matches most word processor software formats. Printing sheets are available at any Office Supplies outlet. This template will print 10 business style cards per sheet.
Click Here to Download the Autism Awareness Business Cards style Template
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