The word “meltdown” can be a scary one to hear, particularly if you’re parenting an autistic child or are close with someone who is. When your loved one experiences an autistic meltdown, it can feel as though they are coming unraveled. In some cases, these outbursts can happen several times a day, which may feel like a never-ending nightmare. But don’t worry; there are ways to help manage and how recover from an autistic meltdown.
An autistic meltdown is triggered by something that causes stress in the individual with autism. These moments of intense anxiety can result in verbal or non-verbal responses from the individual. The word “meltdown” has negative connotations but when it comes to people on the autism spectrum, it isn’t always negative. In fact, for some people who have been diagnosed with ASD, going into a meltdown may be their way of coping and de-stressing from overwhelming situations or stimuli.
Recovering from an autistic meltdown can be challenging. But with the help of loved ones, you can get through it and thrive afterward.
There are many reasons why an autistic person might experience a meltdown. It could be due to sensory overload from too much light, noise, or other stimuli; frustration with a task or repeating something they cannot understand; stress from social expectations like eating at a certain pace; anxiety about a new situation or communication problem; or an intensely negative reaction to something.
Regardless of the cause, meltdowns usually involve a moment of intense stress that leaves the person feeling exhausted afterward. As with any stressful event, it is important to have support and coping strategies in place so that you can recover quickly and feel better again soon after. Here are some tips on how to recover from an autistic meltdown:
How To Recover From An Autistic Meltdown
Everyone experiences stressful situations. If you have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it’s likely they experience them more frequently and intensely than other children. An autistic meltdown occurs when your child is under intense stress and can no longer handle the situation they are in. It’s a natural response to stress that can be beneficial in the long run.
Operating at a high level of stress is not good for anyone, let alone someone with ASD. However, understanding why these meltdowns occur and learning strategies to cope with them reduces their frequency and intensity. They also make it easier for your child to manage future stressful situations, which will eventually lead to an end of autistic meltdowns.
What Is An Autistic Meltdown?
A meltdown occurs when a child with ASD is overwhelmed by the environment around them. They feel as if they can’t cope and can’t be themselves in the situation they are in. A meltdown can vary in duration and intensity, although it’s often a very extreme reaction to a situation. They are not a tantrum. They are a completely different reaction. Meltdowns don’t happen because your child is being bad. They are under stress and have reached their limit. They can’t calm themselves down and return to their usual self. This can make meltdowns very distressing for parents and caregivers.
Causes of Autistic Meltdowns
A meltdown can occur in response to a wide range of stimuli. This can include sensory overload, changes in routine, hunger, thirst, or feeling unwell. Autistic people can be hypersensitive to stimuli, so even everyday sounds and sights can be overwhelming. Meltdowns can occur when someone has been put under too much pressure or is experiencing unhelpful emotions such as anxiety, anger, sadness, or frustration. Meltdowns can be caused by a combination of these factors. For example, a change in routine can trigger your child to feel sad, which can then lead to an angry outburst.
Strategies How To Recover From An Autistic Meltdown
Before you can think about stopping autistic meltdowns, you need to know what triggers them and how to identify them when they happen. You can then try to reduce the size of the meltdown or stop it completely. You can help reduce the triggers of your child’s meltdowns by making things as consistent as possible.
This can include keeping a consistent daily routine, diet, and hygiene routine and remaining in the same surroundings as much as possible. Keep a journal of your child’s meltdowns. Write down each trigger, as well as what you did to help reduce it. This will help you to see patterns in your child’s behavior and minimize meltdowns as a result. Find a therapist who specializes in autism. They can help explain the triggers of your child’s meltdowns and help them learn new strategies for coping with stress.
1- Take Time To Recuperate
If your child has had a meltdown, take time to recover before trying to move on with the rest of your day. Find somewhere quiet where your child can sit and recover from the meltdown. A dimly lit room with a few toys can help. Meltdowns are exhausting for your child, so give them time to calm down. If necessary, you can offer them something to eat or drink and explain that they are under a lot of stress.
2- Use Calming Strategies
You can use calming strategies to reduce the size of a meltdown before it happens. Keep a bottle of water on hand and offer it to your child. Drink water yourself, as you may need it if your child is becoming overwhelmed. Make sure your child is in a comfortable environment. If they aren’t, try to reduce the stimuli by turning off the TV, closing the curtains, and removing any potential triggers in the room.
3- Find Out What Triggers A Meltdown
Find out what triggers your child’s meltdowns and reduce the likelihood of them happening. This can be hard when your child is in the middle of a meltdown, but it’s important to try. Talk to your child’s doctor or therapist about the triggers of their meltdowns. They can help you find out why each one occurs and advise you on how to reduce the likelihood of them happening again. They will also be able to recommend ways to calm your child down, which is especially helpful if they are experiencing an extreme meltdown.
4- Help Your Child Find New Activities They Enjoy
Find activities your child enjoys and can take part in with others. This can help reduce the number of unhelpful emotions they feel, as well as keep them busy. Home-based activities can be calming and rewarding for your child, and they can make progress towards a hobby or skill. This can help your child feel good about themselves and reduce the number of unhelpful emotions they feel.
Meltdowns aren’t something you can completely prevent, but they are something you can learn to cope with. This can reduce the number of times they happen and make them less intense when they do occur. There are many reasons why your child may be experiencing autistic meltdowns, and there are many different ways you can cope with them. The more you know about meltdowns, the easier it will be to cope with them when they happen.