Each child has their own unique way to express themselves and learn new skills, and autistic children are no different. The only difference is that autistic children find it challenging to express how they feel. This is why meltdowns are pretty common in children with autism.
When a child is having a meltdown, parents, and caregivers usually feel stressed, scared, and confused, since they’re not sure what to do or how to help their child. It’s heartbreaking, overwhelming, and can be nerve-wracking when a child is going through a meltdown because you know they’re struggling both physically and emotionally.
To help both you, parents and caregivers and your beautiful children with autism, we bring you this article. Here are some extremely useful guidelines that will help you calm an autistic child during a meltdown.
Stay Close Enough, But Not Too Close
During a meltdown, your child is overwhelmed, and scared, and they’re trying to release emotions they don’t understand or can’t express otherwise. Children may not want to be seen then, but they still need your support as their parent or caregiver, even though they may not be aware of it then. One of the best strategies is to give them their space, but make sure they can see you, so they know you’re there.
Try to Keep Calm for Your Child’s Sake
When you know your child is suffering in any way, it’s not easy to stay calm, but when you remind yourself this is what they need, you push yourself to do it. The child is usually trying to express emotions they don’t understand and don’t know another way to express them. This is the way their bodies release stress.
Staying calm helps the child feel that whatever they’re feeling is validated and that you’re supporting them. As challenging as it can be to control your emotions during this state your child is in, remember that any sign of distress may harm your child. Child psychiatrists and psychologists at https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/ recommend staying positive as this helps your child feel validated and heard, which helps them become more confident individuals. This will help your child become more receptive later when learning to enhance their skills to express their emotions in a healthier way.
One of the main challenges autistic children face is being able to communicate with others. One of the best ways to help calm your child after a meltdown is to show them you understand they’re struggling with their emotions and that it’s okay. This will help both you and your child to work on their communication skills and express their feelings in a positive way.
Keep Some Calming Objects with You
Another way to calm down your child is to divert their attention to something positive. Sometimes fidget toys help calm them down and relieve stress and other overwhelming emotions. Some children prefer tools like noise-cancelling headphones, especially since one of the reasons for a meltdown is that their senses are over-stimulated, making it difficult for them to cope. Sunglasses can also be good if the light is too bright for them to handle or is stressing them out.
Learn the Signs Before the Meltdown Starts
As your child grows, you will notice that there are some signs that show that a meltdown is about to start. It can be many things. Some children start pacing rapidly, others start repeating the same question several times, other children start rocking themselves, and many other signs.
The more you get to know and understand your child, you’ll be able to notice these signs that alert you that a meltdown is on the way. When you learn these signs, it becomes easier to calm the child down before the tantrum escalates.
Apply Pressure on Their Bodies
Another way to calm down your child is to apply pressure on their bodies by wrapping a weighted blanket around them or giving them a lap pad, and if they allow it, hug them. Not all children will allow anyone to come close enough to hug them, but if your child allows it, a comforting cuddle can help calm their nerves.
Adding physical pressure is one way to help the human body understand where it stands and where the world outside it is. It’s like helping the sensory system learn the outline of your body and where the outside of your body is.
The most important thing you need to know is that your love and support for your child are what they need the most. Only you can understand your child and which strategies work best with them. It’s perfectly normal if not all strategies that worked with other children will work with yours, but as you give yourself the time and patience to understand your child, you’ll know exactly what they need to calm down.