Managing Aspergers Meltdowns: Tips for Parents

Sometimes, little emotions are not so little with Aspergers (high functioning autism) children. All of us struggle with emotions – and all of us "lose it" from time to time; however, it's helpful to understand why Aspergers kids may be susceptible to being “driven along” by emotions, rather than being “in charge” of their emotions.

Possible Causes of Meltdowns—

1. Long Term Stress— Combine long term stressors of sensory overload and social challenges, along with all the regular hassles that make up daily living, it's not surprising that Aspergers children may "lose it" over seemingly small situations. As a parent of this child, you may feel bewildered at the intensity of the meltdown.

2. Sensory Overload— Some children with Aspergers are affected by noise, others are affected by smells, textures or lights. It can be any number of things, but too many sensory inputs can lead to meltdowns or shutdowns. It can all happen when the senses get into a major traffic jam.

3. Social Challenges—I was once a tourist in Columbia. The streets did not have signs, and I didn't understand what people were saying. Needless to say, it was stressful. Yet this is what Aspergers kids may go through on a regular basis. Of course, each child is unique, so he may experience more or less of this social confusion, but the stress can take its toll over the course of the day. Too much stress – and the boiling point can be reached.

4. More Stress— If over time an Aspergers child feels that meltdowns are inevitable, random, and uncontrollable, she can feel somewhat stressed out! Imagine not knowing when you will lose it next, or what the consequences may be.

What Can Be Done? 

Here are a few suggestions. Some will work, some won’t. Just as the senses can be bombarded, now your child can use them to self-soothe:

1. Hearing— Have you Aspergers child listen to some beautiful and soothing music. Consider purchasing some meditation CD's. Consider buying CD's with sounds of nature. He may savor the sounds and let them calm him down.

2. Smell— Buy some potpourri or a scented candle and put it in your child’s room. She may enjoy the smells, savor them, and let them calm her down.

3. Taste— Notice what your child’s favorite foods are. Keep some of his favorite foods on hand in small portions. He may really savor the taste, and let it soothe his restlessness.

4. Touch—Massage your child’s shoulders, or go for a walk with him. Maybe he would enjoy lifting weights, martial arts, a warm bath or soft clothes. He may let the touch soothe him and take away his stress.

5. Vision— Buy a beautiful painting or flower. Design a beautiful space in one of the rooms in your house. Light a candle, and watch it quietly with your Aspergers child. Go out in the middle of the night and watch the stars. Be creative. You know best what sights your child will most enjoy. She might notice them, take them in slowly, and let their beauty calm her down.

Tell your child to think of his emotions as wild horses. Untamed, they can wreak havoc. But, once understood and worked with, they can be of great service and power to your Aspergers child.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...