I Didn’t See That Meltdown Coming


Autism parents unite.  We have this image in our heads. We have graphs, line plots, graphic organizers and webs. We will analyze every minute of the day,  and all food that was consumed to help us find the answers. What triggered that meltdown?

Sometimes the cause of the meltdown is obvious. Notice I am using the word meltdown and not tantrum.  Kids with autism try to hold it together all day long at school. I think they save the meltdown for home. 

Sydney’s latest trigger is one that I have absolutely no control over.   I don’t even know if Jesus take the wheel will help me. Her latest trigger is the rain.  Sweet Baby Jesus.  I bought her a new umbrella for Christmas and she was so excited because it matched her raincoat.  When it rains, Sydney starts to talk about storms, and thunder. I am not sure where the fear of rain comes from.  It pains me to see the fear on her face. Maybe she is having a flashback from last years Autism Walk when it rained like a scene from Noah’s Ark.

Her IEP team has been collecting valuable data to share with her behaviorist.  Their data has been useful.  Thursday is the hardest day of the week for Sydney .  We still have not figured out why that is.  But we are getting closer.  Since Sydney has been included  in small group ELA, she has been doing well.  Last night we studied for her vocabulary quiz.  She was able to give me the definitions of black fever, cobbler, and seminary.  I was very proud of her.  She has her flashcards that she wrote all by herself. Sydney realizes that she can learn like her peers with modifications.

One day Sydney had a wonderful day at school. But when my mommy got her off  of the bus she had a meltdown.  Harrison was trying to trouble shoot the situation.   Usually my mom takes the kids back to her house and I pick them up from there.  But that day she decided to let the kids stay home until I got off work. We never figured out what caused the meltdown.  I believe her lack of sleep is key.  How can she survive waking up at 3:00 am , and getting on the bus at 6:40 am ?

I am not sure who the meltdown is harder on Sydney or us.  Her communication has improved, so we can get her to express her feelings. But sometimes I don’t even think she knows what causes it. Some of the seizures are the reason.  I have notebooks of data that I have tracked trying to find the common denominator.  I have learned that you must have a game plan ready, try not to talk too much and keep her safe.

I have video of a Sydney meltdown. In time I will be ready to share it on the blog.  In the past a meltdown could last an hour with Sydney. And the meltdowns could occur several times a day. Now the recovery is much shorter but sometimes not as quiet.

Autism and meltdowns look different for each child.  This is a piece of the puzzle that I am still trying to figure out.

Here’s to an autism meltdown free day!


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