“I’m still working on how to avoid potential meltdowns with my 5 year old. He’s non verbal so I don’t always get it right away. Any tips from the parents???”
I personally think it REALLY depends on what he’s melting down over… “Each behavior has a reason”. And each kid is different… in order to prevent or quell a meltdown, you have to first figure out why they’re melting down and how to help them through it or how to avoid it… but for the most part, you have to figure out what it is first.
Maybe it would help to write down when, where, what time of day, etc the meltdown happened since right now, it’s not as obvious what’s causing the meltdown.
Like with the boys, we figured out that we were ONLY able to go to one specific grocery store. That’s the one they felt most comfortable at. They couldn’t tell us that, but after a while, we figured out we had a much easier time going to that grocery store than any others. A friend of mine had said that you have to make a mistake a few times to realize it’s a mistake. Which I think is genius.
Or we also figured out that those situations are just WAY too hard for them to manage… so if they had something to help cope or take their minds off of everything else going on around them, our experience would be much better.
So we brought drinks, snacks, toys, favorite blankets and tablets with movies downloaded to them. Years later, we can now go to the prefferd store, and make it through a quick trip without food, drinks or tablets. However, we know we still have our limits. If we know we’re going to be there for a long time, or we had to run errands before, or if they’re not having a particularly good day, we ALWAYS make sure to have everything on hand just in case.
That’s another thing…. we ALWAYS have a “survival kit”… or… diaper bag on hand. Even at almost 6 and 7 years old, we bring a diaper bag (and not because they’re still in diapers)… we bring toys, snacks, drinks, devices… now that things are better, we always try to start the trip out using nothing and work our way up… at first sight of an issue we start with drinks, then snacks, then a toy and lastly the device. Then worse case, we leave.
That brings me to my last point.
At least with us, our kids just can’t tell us what’s wrong… and we just aren’t be able to figure it out…. sometimes the BEST thing you can do for yourself and for your kid is just to plain leave. Leave your cart in the middle of the store, throw your kid over your shoulder and high tail it to the car. Justin is 99lbs and I will throw him over my shoulder in a heart beat and book it to the car if I think it’s necessary for either of us.
So ALWAYS have an exit strategy. If I’m going with their Dad, before we even unbuckle our seatbelts, we have a plan. If it’s splitting up or staying together, we go through what we’re doing so we’re on the same page.
“Okay, we’re going to do this this and this… if something happens, meet here or call me or this is what we’re going to do.” That way there’s no confusion, less screaming and yelling and everyone knows what they need to do in a “crisis”.
We always TRY to avoid a meltdown, be prepared and hope for the best. But sometimes that’s just not going to happen. It takes a while for kids/people on the spectrum to learn, understand and be able to cope. It doesn’t make them bad or misbehaving… it’s just too overwhelming. It makes it even harder for us as parents when they’re non-verbal because we have to guess how to help them.
Sometimes meltdowns are just going to be unavoidable. So be understanding, and don’t be hard on yourself either. If you don’t have to, do push the situation, but keep trying. Never give up… eventually it WILL get easier. 🙂