Over the course of my profession in working with those with disabilities, there is one expert I learn the most from……parents! A mother and father become experts in advocating, educating, supporting, and understanding their child diagnosed with a disability. This particular blog post is some highlights to what I have learned from parents who are raising a children with Autism.
When I was a special education teacher the best advice I received from a parent, whose child was my first student with Autism, was this:
“Don’t alter his environment to deflect a meltdown, because I can’t spend the rest of my life staying away from environments I can’t change. Yes he is going to have meltdowns, but let’s teach him during those meltdowns, so we know how to support him in environments in which we can’t change.” I have carried this message with me over the last 12 years of teaching and supporting those with Autism, and all other disabilities
I have come in contact with many other parents, who have taught me so much with their insight as it relates to them and their child. When I saw mother, Jennifer Cox, post on her facebook page words of understanding meltdowns for those with autism…. I had to share! Below you will find her words and a You Tube video link to better understand when an individual with autism has a meltdown.
If you have any confusion about what I mean by meltdown in autism terms, please watch this video, as it does a good job in explaining this. A typical symptom in autism spectrum disorders is the inability to self- regulate. So, the things that a neurotypical person can ignore or block out without realizing it, a person with autism may not be able to block out. Their brains can get overloaded with all the information being sent to them from the environment.
A neurotypical person can feel themselves getting upset, recognize the sensation, identify the triggers, and correct the issue. They can calm themselves down. A person with autism often cannot feel that those triggers are there, cannot identify what triggers it, and then cannot calm themselves down without having a meltdown.
Meltdowns can involve screaming, kicking, hitting, falling to the floor, being aggressive towards others, being aggressive towards themselves, or bolting away.
In full meltdown mode, listening skills and language comprehension can be obsolete. They are melting down and their brain is trying to protect itself by trying to block everything out.
Please do not dismiss my experiences or my anxiety about situations because you have no experience with autistic meltdowns. There’s a reason studies prove that autism mothers experience higher levels of stress and are more likely to have post traumatic stress disorder. It’s just a fact. I don’t always share this side, but it does exist.
Below is the link of the You Tube video posted by Autism Family channel, of what Jennifer shared with her blog post. I wanted to provide the video for you to watch, because her description and insight came after watching the video clip provided.
I love sharing the insights I have learned from parents. I will continue to post blogs of things that I learn from others along this journey. Hope you enjoyed and can share it with other families to help spread insight and understanding. More to come!