Autism, while it is so much a part of me, it can also make some things harder. The same may be true for the children and adults that you work with who have various isms. Autism is often a reason for behaviors I display, but please know, I am not making an excuse – I am seeking support and compassion.
Some days I cope very well, in what for me can be a somewhat confusing, overstimulating world. Other days, I am not able to cope so well. It is important to remember that everyone has good and bad days, whether they have an ism or not. Sometimes having an ism, such as autism, can make those not so great moments a little bit more complicated.
Understand the Reason for Behaviors
When someone is upset, it is typical to want to comfort them and make things better. Sometimes, for an individual who has autism, this can be hard or even impossible. There have probably been times that the individual with autism you work with or care for has been upset and you haven’t been able to figure out why. There have been countless times that I have been upset, and have not been able to tell someone why right away.
I may just start crying and screaming for what seems like no reason, but over the years, I have learned there is always a reason or trigger. Sometimes the trigger is just hidden and finding it may take replaying hours worth of events, as the meltdown could have been a result of something that happened hours earlier or even days or more ago.
Explore Possible Triggers as a Reason for Behaviors
Here are some triggers that are a reason for behaviors I display. I have found that I can get upset with any of the following:
- Sensory overload
- Unexpected loud noises
- Feeling dysregulated and out of sync in my body
- Feeling scared, anxious, upset, nervous, or sad about something
- Feeling rushed
- Schedule changes
- Getting stuck in thinking about a certain thing
- Getting too hyped up or too excited
- Too many social demands put on me over a period of time
Here are some things that help me calm down:
- Weighted blanket
- Weighted vest
- Weighted lap pad
- Rocking in a rocking chair
- Swinging on a swing
- Sensory breaks
- Putting my head down on a desk or table for a short period of time
- Sensory fidgets, e.g., sticky hands, squeeze balls
- Typing to communicate on my iPad
Ideas to Help Calm Your Child
Some of these strategies may work, and some may not. Remember, these are based on my personal experiences living with autism. You will need to explore what works for your child or loved one.
Please Don’t Criticize
Don’t yell at me or punish me for a meltdown, at least not during the meltdown. Don’t criticize or judge me for my behaviors or meltdowns, as all it does is make me feel worse. Remember, there is a difference between bad behavior, and a meltdown that cannot be controlled at the time.
Explore More >> Five Strategies to Avoid Meltdowns
Give Processing Time
Give me time to process what is going on. I need quiet to process as too much stimuli makes it hard for me to process. It is easier for me to calm down if the talking is kept to a minimum.
Explore More >> Calming Activities for Anxiety & Sensory Isms
Be a Support
Let me know that you are there for me if and when I need you. Be willing to problem solve and trouble shoot with me when I am ready to do so.
Explore More >> Detect and Deal with Anxiety
Personally, ignoring does not work for me. I feel like my needs, wants, feelings and desires are being ignored. However, for some – it may work.
Explore More >> The Art of Strategic Ignoring
Help me make decisions when I am not able to at the time. Help explain to others around me that I am struggling at a time when I cannot do so for myself.
Explore More >> Teach Your Child the Skill of Calm
Find a Quiet Place
Help me get to a quiet place. Know that sometimes recovery can take hours.
Explore More >> Six Ways to Calm a Sensory Over-Responder
Make sure I am completely calmed down before placing more demands on me, as if I am not the meltdown will cycle all over again.
Explore More >> Managing Sensory Overload: An Insider’s Perspective
Please know that autism can be a reason for many upsetting behaviors. While we are not trying to make excuses for our behaviors, we seek your help, understanding and compassion.
Do you have any solutions to add to the list above? If yes, please tell us about them on Facebook.