At the Autism and Aspergers Support Group Inc Hawkesbury meet in July I was asked by a parent about how to manage meltdowns. There is not simple way to answer this question, though other parents did provide some suggestions. Some things that work for other parents and their children include:
- Staying calm
- Get down to your child's level and sit with them
- Speak reassuringly, assuring them they are not "in trouble"
- Hug them tightly or wrap them tightly in a blanket (for some children with Sensory Integration issues this can be comforting)
SCARED stands for...
Safe - find an environment, or follow the child to an environment where they feel safe.
Calm - stay calm, speak calmly, talk in literal language.
Affirmation - show that you know what they are afraid of by putting it in words.
Routine - work with repetitive, routine behaviours that they may be using to help calm themselves (so long as it does not involve self-harm).
Empathy - show you are there to support and help.
Develop an intervention strategy - make a step-by-step, concrete plan for what to do if a meltdown happens again.
This month I plan to explore these six elements of responding to meltdowns in more depth.
Lipsky, D. and Richards, W. (2009). Managing Meltdowns: Using the SCARED Calming Technique with Children and Adults with Autism. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.