Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Meltdown vs. A Tantrum

For anyone who has seen an autistic child have a meltdown, then you are aware of the drastic difference. For those that have not, I will do my best to describe what a meltdown can entail. Today, Nick had a meltdown of the likes we have not seen since starting him on Risperdal in April. One minute he was fine, the next minute he is screaming uncontrollably, laying on his bed, covering his face up with his blanket, shaking his head back and forth, biting his lips until they bleed, and his whole body seems to be so enraged that he shakes. At that point, my child is no longer 'there'. It is during these rages that he will bang his head or hit himself in the face. Before starting medication, these would happen almost daily. They would render Nick unable to function, and our whole focus at that time would be damage control. A toddler having a tantrum is normally due to them not getting what they want. A meltdown can occur from something as simple as lights being too bright, the microwave being turned on, or even the wind as it blows past his ears. Any of these situations can send Nick into a cataclismic state. It can also be caused by anxiety. Anxiety over a simple schedule change, if he has to wait a few minutes at the table for dinner, if he sees an oscillating fan, etc. Yes, these have happened in public. I can't reason with him and tell him to 'stop it, or else.' These are things that literally HURT him. You cannot begin to imagine how it is to watch your child endure something like this and feel so helpless.


Anonymous said...

Been there, done that, our ASD son (6) has been able to regulate better over time but it is still hard. ASD individuals physically "feel" and manifest stress, most (nonASD parents) don't understand it and blame us.

Amy said...

Nick has gotten better too with age, but as you know, we still have them every so often. Thanks Anon for your support!