Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Meltdowns in an Autistic family!

Meltdowns in an Autistic family

Meltdowns in autism

As I have grown older my meltdowns are few and far between – but they still can happen.  About 1/2 hour ago my son (Autism – verbal) who likes to literally climb on my desk, managed to knock over my meticulously stacked paperwork so that my office now looks like a paper recycling factory. It took me hours to sort all those bills, and notices and super forms and autism information pamphlets and I just instinctually screamed in frustration as my ‘big feelings’ overflowed and started banging my head on my desk. (God this is embarrassing but I may as well be truthful)


Of course he took off in fear to hide under his bed, probably more to do with the volume of my scream than anything. About 5 mins later he came out of hiding but by this stage was in tears and launching in to the ASD “its all my fault” thing. I have found that ASD people tend to internalise. Perhaps it is a theory of mind problem? I dunno. But generally everything is about us which also equates to everything is all our fault. (I still do this at almost forty years of age)


So my poor little son comes back into the office saying “I’m sorry… I’m sorry…I’m sorry” absolutely hysterical.


Now I am not excusing my behaviour, or lack of maturity, or lack of ability to handle my own feelings – but I saw this as an awesome learning opportunity for him.


So I sat down with him giving him a big cuddle and said “You know when someone knocks over your sand castles or breaks your lego and how upset that makes you – how you have a meltdown?”


He stared up at me with his big brown eyes which narrowed as he relived those moments. “Yes!” he said angrily punching his fist into his hand.


I said Well Mummy, simply had her sandcastle thumped over and had an meltdown


Im sorry… I'm grieved… I'm heartbroken" he began once more


“Nah, it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t mean to do it. But my feelings got to big for a bit. Just like sometimes when people break up your work – they also don’t mean to do it to upset you”


I watched him turn this over then I said "The cool thing about experiencing childhood in a chemical imbalance family is that we as a whole 'get' each other more often than not. and know how it feels and how hard it is sometimes. The not so cool part is that we all have meltdowns and struggle with big feelings.” A big smile broke across his face. I am sure I saw years of self-crimination wiped away as he realised that we accept him but still challenge him to grow beyond his natural behaviour.


“Like Daddy when he loses at Gran Turismo and threw the controller?” he pointed out happily. I was so pleased that my husband came in to back me up.


“Exactly” said Daddy not so nuero-typical. “I had big feelings about losing the game. I have to work on this”


Many would probably disagree with me on how I handled this and possibly think I am making excuses for bad behaviour and encouraging that with Zech. I don’t think so. See if I can’t get past him self-punishing he will never get to the point where he can work on his behaviour. Being an example for him from my perspective is saying “We have similar issues as you – we have a form of Autism too but this is how we can get past this. And when we don’t. When we muck up. Its OK. We just get up and keep going and keep trying – not beat ourselves up over it.”


Surely this is true in any Neuro-typical family as well albeit different issues perhaps? To be an example for your kids not out of being perfect but by walking them through the process of handling different situations and accepting lack of perfection – something very difficult for ASD people.


Sure I wish our house wasn’t filled with holes, that our furniture didn’t look like its been ravaged by wolves (to be fair I think the dog can take some credit for that) that our lounge suites were not bounced on to the point that each chair has its own special dip in the cushion for unsuspecting relatives and friends, that there wasn’t a pile of broken things in the shed that we can’t bear to throw out. But you know what, it just doesn’t matter. The important thing is that sure they can learn as much as they can to help them fit into this world – but my ultimate goal is that they love and accept themselves including their Autism rather than being plagued by depression and self doubt. I want them to be confident! Aware of their tricky areas, but confident in their abilities. Not so different perhaps from the Neurots?

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