A meltdown is a difficult situation to handle for most parents because they occur when the child becomes stressed out, upset or over stimulated. When a child with autism has a meltdown, it is equally stressful for parents. Therefore, it is important to develop an effective way of dealing with them and minimizing their occurrence.
So here are a few precautions regarding autistic meltdown:
Calming the Child Down
During a meltdown, the child may feel confused, agitated, frustrated, overwhelmed, or scared—i.e. experiencing all sorts of negative emotions.
Therefore, shouting, yelling, or hitting them will do nothing to help in this situation. It is far more likely to aggravate the situation.
During a meltdown, a child needs, most of all, an opportunity to relax. Thus, you should respond patiently and compassionately.
Giving them a hug
A tight hug provides deep pressure, which helps them feel calm and secure. A long bear hug may help them feel better.
Do not force a hug on the child or hold them down. This is incredibly distressing, especially if the child is already feeling overwhelmed. The child may panic and lash out at you.
Let the child leave the situation
Going outside, retreating to their calming down corner, or going to their room are all good ways to help an autistic child to calm down. It is better to leave their own space for few hours so they have time to recover themselves.
A good portion of meltdowns are due to sensory overload, a phenomenon that happens when there are too many stimuli and a person becomes overwhelmed. Leaving the situation removes them from the distressing stimuli and allows them to rebalance.
The duration of the quiet time depends on the severity of the distress and the needs of the child. A milder meltdown might require only a few minutes of quiet time, while greater distress might require 15 minutes or more of recovery.
Be prepared for future meltdowns
While you can reduce the number of meltdowns, you cannot eliminate them, so it is good to always be prepared.
Have an action plan for getting the child to leave an overwhelming situation. Where can she go to feel safe?
Make sure the telephone is near you and working in case you need to call someone for help.
Have things the child can use for self-calming: earplugs, headphones, stuffed animals, comfort items, or whatever they usually need.
If your child has a history of violence, keep all potentially dangerous items out of immediate reach.
Try to get rid from stressful situations :
Note both sensory and other types of input. It may help to ask the child's siblings to take their noisy play outside, or to remove the child from a loud kitchen.
Try engaging them in a physical activity that helps them to expel energy, such as a walk, gardening, or anything that refreshes them mentally.
Try bringing the child outdoors or into a quiet room where they can take some time to calm down. Bedrooms, calming-down corners, and even bathrooms can work.