The following is an excerpt from a practical and encouraging article a good friend posted yesterday. We have known each other twelve years now. He has been a tremendous source of information and inspiration to me as my husband and I strive to best parent a child (now, a young adult) on the autism spectrum. As someone on the spectrum himself, he has a specialized perspective on how to navigate this world. As a person of faith, he is kind and compassionate, full of grace. Here, he explains how we might view meltdowns, not only as a negative, but leaning in to them, they might be a coping mechanism.
Likewise, we have accepted a form of toxic normality where we have largely come to accept that healthy people don’t have meltdowns where in fact our meltdowns help many of us on the spectrum reach a psychological and sensory equilibrium that indeed helps us through overwhelming circumstances.
Meltdowns are normal for autistic people. It’s not the easiest aspect of autism to talk about. It’s certainly among the most stigmatized characteristic in the public perception of autism. But it’s a fact of life.
- Autistic folk: Learn what factors push you toward a meltdown and by how much. Not only can this help you regulate your sensory and emotional needs, but it will help you better identify when a meltdown may happen and allow you to prepare for it. Know what safe spaces will be available to you. Know if you should avoid a certain activity or setting to allow for that safety net. Let the meltdown come sooner rather than later, and see if that helps the severity and duration improve over time.
- Autism parents: Learn your child. They may not be able to self-regulate, so you have to be able to help them. When you see a meltdown coming, verbally affirm that it’s OK, that they are safe, and that you are there to support them. Provide a safe place for the meltdown to happen, and don’t dwell on the meltdown after it’s over. Again, with time, you may see severity and duration reduce.
Meltdowns are part of being autistic. They’re not as glamorous or inspirational as some other aspects of our lives, but they are a fact of existence. Therefore, instead of fighting them so hard that we make our own lives worse, let’s develop better relationships with our meltdowns so they can be the sensory and emotional resets we need them to be.
For the post in its entirety, click here at Simply Robert.