Asperger’s Syndrome Meltdowns: How to Cope
If your child has Asperger’s Syndrome, chances are he has meltdowns. Some may be worse than others, but all leave both parent and child exhausted. Follow these tips in order to cope with Asperger’s Meltdowns.
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Asperger’s Syndrome is on the autism spectrum. It is a disorder where children experience overwhelming emotions which they can’t control. They also can have poor motor skills and an aversion to texture and touch. They cannot tolerate certain textures of food and clothing, and they don’t use eye contact. When having a conversation, these kids will avert their eyes. It seems that they are ignoring you, but they hear every word you say. They don’t understand body language, including facial expressions.
Often, children with Asperger’s Syndrome are brilliant, though they become obsessed with specific hobbies. Though this obsession changes, it continues throughout their lives. These children are often called names such as quirky or weird and have trouble making friends amongst their peers.
Although these children have many problems, they can be taught to leave normal lives as well as how to cope with their emotions. Here is an example and a few tips on how to deal with Asperger’s Meltdowns.
What are Meltdowns?
Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are exhausted. But, don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day, and sometimes into the next, the meltdown can return full force.
What are meltdowns? They are overwhelming emotions and quite common in Asperger’s children. What causes them? It can be anything from a minor incident to something more traumatic. How long do they last? It’s anyone’s guest. They continue until the child is either thoroughly exhausted, or he gains control of his emotions, which is not easy for him to do.
Let me tell you about a meltdown that my grandson experienced. It’s the worst that I’ve ever seen, and it took us both days to recuperate. For some reason, unknown to his parents and me, he freaked. He said it was because he didn’t have any green toys, while all the while there were green toys all around the house. Why green? It is his favorite color.
Anyway, to make a long story short, he laid on his bed for over an hour, crying and shouting that no one cared that he didn’t have any green toys. I tried reasoning with him to no avail. I pointed out all of the green toys in his room while he lay on his bed, tears streaming down his face, saying he had no green toys. I was at my wit’s end and left him alone to see if he would be able to gain control of his emotions. I checked on him several times but didn’t interfere. I do know that we need to play the overwhelming feelings out for him to gain control.
I knew that his meltdown had nothing to do with green toys. There was some underlying factor. It may have been something that happened at school that day, or it might have been something that happened a week or month previously. One never knows what sparks an Asperger’s meltdown.
Finally, I voice my opinion. “This is not about green toys,” I told. “What exactly is it about?” To my surprise, he lifted his head off the bed and told me that other kids tease him at school earlier in the day. I felt a thrill go through my body from head to toe. My grandson had identified what had caused the meltdown. It is something that Asperger’s sufferers have trouble doing, and if they do know, they don’t know how to communicate their feelings.
I told him that it was excellent that he had told me what was causing his problem and offered to help him solve it positively. He listened as I told him what we would do to correct the actions of the child who had teased him carefully. He accepted my solution and then fell asleep exhausted. There were no recurring meltdowns from this incident.
Will My Asperger Child Have Meltdowns?
If your child suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, expect him to experience both minor and major meltdowns over incidents that are part of daily life. He may have a major meltdown over a small incident or may suffer a minor collapse over something that is major. There is no way of telling how he is going to react to certain situations. However, there are some ways to help your child learn to control his emotions.
Talk to Your Child
Asperger’s sufferers don’t have the knowledge to decipher when their actions are inappropriate. When your child is calm and relaxed, talk to him about his meltdowns if he is of an age where he can reason and learn to work with you. It will probably not be until the child is seven or eight years old. Then, tell him that sometimes he does things that are not appropriate. Have him talk to you about a sign you can give him to let him known when this happens. When my grandson begins to experience a meltdown, he and I have agreed that I can make him know by laying my hand on his shoulder and saying, “Please stay calm.” It works fantastically for me but doesn’t work for his mother. I have explained this to some of his teachers, and while it’s worked for some, it hasn’t worked for others. So, you have to learn by trial and error.
All you can do is be patient with your child while he is having a meltdown, though they are emotionally exhausting for you as well as he. Never punish him for experiencing a collapse. Overwhelming emotions are part of the Asperger’s traits, but if you work with your child, he will eventually learn to control them somewhat.
Asperger’s children don’t like surprises, and some don’t like to be touched. Never rush to your Asperger’s child and hug him. If you want to hug him, tell him exactly what you are going to do. A surprise hug can send him into an even worse meltdown than he is already experiencing.
My grandson doesn’t like that someone hugs when he is having a meltdown. However, when it is just beginning if I say, “I think you’ve had a bad day, and you need a hug,” he will accept that. Try it with your child. If he says, “no” then let it pass, or you will have an even bigger problem on your hands.
Work with Your Asperger’s Child
Asperger’s children like to be left alone to cope with emotions. If your child says something like, “I just want to be left alone” then respect his wishes for at least a while. You can always go back in ten minutes and ask if you can help. Do not be hurt if he refuses.
Work with your Asperger’s child as he grows older to help him learn to cope with daily life. Remember, he sees the world much differently than we do and needs help deciphering exactly how we look at the world. While working with him on this, he will give you clues as to how he sees the world and then establishes a firmer bond.