Tantrum vs Meltdown
All of you lovely people that follow us over @jameshealthjourney know we have been struggling with what I have been calling 'control' issues with James.
For a couple of weeks strong now James' behaviour has been less than desirable.
James also hasn't displayed this behaviour it a while so it's come out of left field and truly smacked us in the face.
This is however not 'uncommon', James' ASD ( autism spectrum disorder) often has us taking 5 steps forward and then 7 back.
We also see changes in behaviour when he is about to sprout forward in an area of development. We also have to remember he is a 4 year old boy and children whether they have labels are not like to push 'buttons'.
So, after much thinking and watching, I decided we needed to change our approach in some areas with James.
James is a smart kid, it appears he knows that by chucking a 'tantrum' he gets whatever he desires in that moment.
I am guilty of 'throwing in the towel' early and allowing his 'immediate wants' so I can create peace and calm within our family unit.... BUT by doing so I have created a tantrum chucking monster that can switch on a grunt, kick and a scream in a HOT minute.
ASD is draining.
Everyday life raising children, let alone with additional needs is extremely taxing on the family unit.
Some things you can control but a lot you can not as a special needs parent.
It's easy to get spun into a web of giving them what they want rather than need to give your soul a rest. It's tiresome. And it's not a win/win situation.
So I will use my tantrum example from yesterday...
We had travelled to the supermarket to collect some groceries.
As we entered the shops James eye balled the ride on car.
He said, 'ride on car'
I said, 'maybe after the shopping'.
We were then back at the boot of the car loading the groceries when James said, 'the car'!
I said, 'sorry babe I forgot, have to go home now'
James then did his usual grunt and moan and started jumping up and down in the trolley.
I stood my ground because I knew this was a tantrum and NOT a meltdown.
I put him in the car and he was over it quicker than you can say tantrum.
Now the normal Sharna would have loaded the groceries and then taken James back in side to ride the car. But it's important that we teach James that we don't always get what we want in life. Gentle pushes need to be active in order to change behaviour and this is a behaviour I need to change.
While the above is a clear example of a tantrum, unfortunately there is a little something called a MELTDOWN.
Meltdowns are VERY different and in these cases the child NEEDS whatever they NEED.
The older James gets the less meltdowns have become which is fantastic.
In James' case he has some pretty intense sensory meltdowns from being unregulated.
When James goes into meltdown he needs the immediate environment around him to change. It's NOT negotiable. It might mean completely removing him from a situation that is too overwhelming for his senses to process ( too many people, too loud, too bright) , giving him his iPad to zone into so he can shut down the other senses to recharge, giving him sensory input for calm like tight squeezes ( proprioceptive input) or taking him for a car ride ( vestibular input).
I know when James is about to go into the red zone.
The first sign is he clenches his fists, he then starts to withdraw looking around ( likely for an escape), he then becomes so overwhelmed he loses the ability to verbally communicate and then he just screams.
Imagine how absolutely terrifying it would be to lose the ability to control your system let alone not being able to control and change the environment around you.
It's intense. But like I said above, meltdowns are becoming less the older James gets. We work very hard in limiting his anxieties and giving him the tools to cope.
I don't really want to ever relive the days of the ten meltdowns a day. My soul is still burnt from those out of control moments. These were days when their was now label, a mummy and daddy so exhausted and not as well educated on all things ASD.
It was really important for me to get this down on paper because so many people,( a lot in our immediate circle) will roll their eyes at me when I use the word meltdown or say ' all kids have meltdowns' or ' James is just being naughty'.
NO all kids do not have meltdowns. They have tantrums. Meltdowns are a whole new ball game. James also isn't 'naughty' when in meltdown, he is fearful not naughty, he can't control what's happening. So watch out if you tell me he is naughty while he is in meltdown because I am a pretty fiercely protective ASD mumma.
It's super important to educate so that we can support the children and the parents who deal with this everyday. It's not easy on anyone.
Less judgement, more support and understanding are needed in 2017.
Unfortunately autism rates are on the rise so whether you are familiar with autism or not, educating yourself for our future is a must.