Tag Archives | meltdown

I got my first “I hate you” from my son

My son had quite the meltdown yesterday when it came time to turn off his game. It was a combination of losing, his cousin not doing what he wanted and being told it’s time to turn it off. It was just too much… when he broke the game remote and started calling everyone the worst words he could (stupid and dumb are about the harshest words he knows) is when I had enough and gave him a time out in his room.

Don’t make any mistake, this was quite the meltdown and I didn’t get mad… I just removed him from the living room to give him time to cool off. That’s when he yelled back that he hates me.

Now, I tweeted about it shortly afterwards… not that it hurt me, but that I it happened. In my mind, it was as if I had finally joined the club… because most parents have heard this from their children… Autism or not.

Children in general have no filter on the things they say. They don’t know what “pushing it too far” is… they just know they’re mad and they need to express it in the loudest, most hurtful way they can. It’s only in time that they learn (hopefully) how to dial it back, how not to say things that they don’t really mean just because they’re filled with so much emotion.

We as parents can’t take it personally… we all know that it’s simply a reaction and that once they do cool down, all will be back to normal.

However, it can be a bit more extreme when Autism is involved. The yells are louder, the rage is more intense, more things are likely to get broken and in some cases, someone can easily get hurt.

After I tweeted, a lot of parents tried to console me… telling me it’s ok, he still loves me… which I shrugged off. I tweeted it with pride, not pain. I wasn’t proud exactly, wrong word, but as I said, I felt like a part of the club now.

Anyway, upon reflecting on it, I get why they consoled me. As fellow parents of Autistic children, they know just how hard it can be… more so than other parents.

angry boyWhen a toy shatters against the wall or… in this case, a game remote breaks as it’s slammed onto the ground, you can start to feel a little bad as a parent. You start to picture movies where troubled families have troubled kids who break things, become bullies and eventually put on a mask and go around killing people. Yes, I watched the Halloween remakes recently. Anyway, I digress…

More extreme or not, harder or not, our children still love us and I still feel like I’ve just graduated into the next level of the group. I don’t need consoling but I do appreciate the support… so very much so. Because that’s what our community is all about and it’s truly wonderful to know it’s there.

When your child first tells you something hurtful, and they will, you don’t have to share it with pride and you certainly don’t have to share it because you feel hurt.. but share it anyway. It’s a very heart warming feeling when you get that little reminder that there are some truly great people out there that waiting for you in that new group you just joined.

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“I don’t like to lose!” – A tough lesson to learn

While sitting here at my computer working, my son and his older cousin are in the living room playing Mario Party 8. Normally, this game is a wonderful tool for him to develop his motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination and even problem solving skills. However, as he gets better at it, he’s finding that he has a much harder lesson to learn… that he can’t win all the time.

I could hear it building until finally he stomped his feet off into the kitchen screaming “I don’t like to lose!” with tears streaming down his face.

At this point, I got up, went into the living room and looked at him. Again, he looked at me and screamed “I don’t like to lose!” so I said “well then, if you can’t lose at it, you can’t play it” and turned off his game.

At this point, I expected a much larger meltdown so I had to move quick while I had his attention.

Before he could even open his mouth, I said “do you want to play this game again?” and he yelled “YES!”

So I said “well, you’re not going to unless you can lose.”

I continued “do you like to play the new Donkey Kong game?” and he said “yes” and I said “well, you’re going to lose.”

I said “do you like to go bowling?” and he said “yes” and I said “well, you’re going to lose.”

At this point he came back in and sat on the couch… knees up under his chin.

I said “Let me ask you Cameron, if you win… who loses?” to which he replied “Emily” (his cousin).

I said “Do you think she likes to lose every single time?” and he said “no.” I said “well, if you win every single time, she loses every single time. I bet she doesn’t like losing either. It wouldn’t be much fun if she got mad and stormed off into the kitchen, would it?” and he said “no.”

I said “Do you think that Emily wins every single time when she goes bowling?” and he said “no.”

I explained to him that he has to lose sometimes, Emily has to lose sometimes… even I lose sometimes. But when you lose, you get better at it until eventually you will win.

He felt better about it, but there’s no quick fix for this. 10 minutes later, he was right back into the game and getting mad that he was losing. Some people never grow out of it. We all know people that get really mad about losing.

And trying to teach a 5 year old with Autism that you have to lose in order to learn how to win is quite a tricky task to be sure, but it’s one of the fun parts of parenting. I like to think that a little bit of what I said sunk in… and next time a little more.

For this talk, I lose. But I’ll keep at it until I win… because when I do, so will he.

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School and Fridays and Autism, the meltdowns that end an overwhelming week

My son is now in his second year of school, although it’s really just kindergarten, he has been doing full days and full weeks the entire time. Ever since the very first week, we’ve noticed and recognized a very consistent and steady trend. Mondays are good. Fridays are bad.


I'm freaking out!

Most everyone can identify with the build up that occurs all week and is the main reason that we all look forward to Friday so much… 2 days of freedom! Whether it’s school or work, Monday to Friday is a continual build up of stress, nerves, frustrations, anxiety and a whole host other negative feelings.

With Autism, they rate it from mild to severe, high functioning to low functioning, but regardless of where you ‘rate’, the emotional and sensory and overwhelming feelings are all there. And that only makes the Monday to Friday build up that much worse.

In our case, Fridays are almost always meltdown days. Cameron can go the entire week without getting a single time out at school and end up getting 4 in one day, like today… Friday.

Then he gets home and he lashes out at his little brother, he refuses to eat, he does not listen and he even gets a bit violent (pushing and kicking).

What happened from the very happy boy on Monday that gets no time outs to the little monster of Friday?

It’s not his diet, it’s not something in the air, it’s just the build up. Constant attention, constant demands, constant sensory stimulation, constant learning, constant physical activities… more, more, more and and come Friday, he explodes.

I’m open to suggestions as to what to do about this, because all that we do works for a while, but only a while. Weighted vests, short breaks, different foods… there’s not a lot available to us as parents since they’re off at school on their own.

All I do know is that come Friday, there needs to be an understanding from us parents, that there is a reason that they’re like this. Not to let it slide, bad behaviour is bad behaviour. But there is a reason for it and they are struggling too.

It’s up to you to choose the consequences and the punishments but when you do (and there should be some), keep in mind that they’re having a very very bad day already. Help them to over come the bad day, rather than simply add to it.

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Parents – Explanations vs Apologies

All to often, we’ve been in the situation where our child is in public and totally at random we find ourselves in the middle of a meltdown, an non responsive zombie or just a very bizarre act that people just see as weird.

Our first response is to look around, see who’s looking at us… are they saying anything to the person next to them? Are they obviously thinking something we’ve heard before?

First thing we can think to say is… now say it with me “I’m sorry, my child has Autism”.

Are you really sorry? I’m not. I have nothing to be sorry for. In fact, my child has done nothing wrong. All children do these things, mine just happens to do it more often than most but you know what? They don’t know that. They’re witnessing it for the first time. And they’re making judgments. No, my child has done nothing wrong. They have. Shame on them for passing judgments without all the information.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with explaining yourself… “my child has Autism, he’s just really overloaded by all the sights and sounds in here. He doesn’t mean to bother you.”

See the difference there?

I can assure you, with almost 100% certainty, that the person you’re talking to will get far more from that than an empty apology. They don’t know what Autism really is, they don’t know you or your child. But your tone does come across, whether you know it or not. You’ve apologized a million times and you’ve never really meant it, not really. You’ve done nothing wrong, neither did your child. And that person will walk away, still judging you and and still judging your child and you’ll finish what you’re doing and go home feeling angry, defeated… depressed.

Do not apologize for what you do not have to apologize for. Instead, explain what is happening and why. It doesn’t take long. And in so doing, you’re raising awareness, you’re not faking a smile behind anger and tears.

We’ve all been there, we’ll all be there again. There’s no need to feel bad, there’s no need to feel mad. Either they get an explanation or they don’t deserve one but never ever do they deserve an apology when you’ve done nothing wrong.

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