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someone explain what just happened...is this a meltdown?

(38 Posts)
crazygal Sun 24-Feb-13 18:57:30

Hi all..
My ds,(8) who is adhd and aspergers,has had overall a pretty good week,we have had a few episodes,
but tonight has been extreme!! It has really upset both myself and dh..
Now I'm worried the neighbours have heard and If I had heard It I would have called the police!!

Ds has had a sleepover last night at our friends,who really understand him..smile
Its his first ever sleep over,and they informed us he has been amazing! smile They said he hardly ate,and had about two hours sleep...

Since he came home he's been quite and sleepy,then this evening I said in 5 mins you need to have a shower,It resulting in him exploding at me! I was ironing at the time,and he pushed the ironing board on me,luckly the iron went on the floor,I dropped everything and went to him and went to stroke his arm to calm,he punched me so hard,dh took over and pulled him away from me,he pinched him,and his swearing went nuts,he screamed at the top of his voice as if someone was hurting him,or he was terribly scared...

We left the room to leave him space....but he just kept swearing at us.which was really bad.
Then shower time! It just kicked off even worse,he hit my dh so hard...screaming even harder,dh put him in the shower and ds kept hitting and kicking the shower door so hard he has now broken it,ds was shaken in rage!!

We told him he lost his story time for bed which escalated him more....I feel so upset!
I Tried to cuddle him had he head butt me..
What am I to do with him!!
I've had enough...and bedtime is in two mins and its gonna kick off again as we said hes lost his story and cuddle...
Would you kept the consequence?
how do all of you deal with the meltdowns?
Thank you!

porridgeLover Tue 26-Feb-13 11:20:35

No I wouldn't give in as I think they really need the boundaries to be very firm for their own security.

What I find works is saying something like 'You look really upset, did you really want to watch that programme? I wish I could stop time so that you could see it before bed but scientists havent invented that yet, so it's bedtime now'.

crazy dont be so hard on yourself. I doubt anyone here has learnt better strategies, without first having done it 'wrong' lots of times.

crazygal Tue 26-Feb-13 09:22:01

inthewilderness yes everything you said I can relate to...like you say,something like,'I want to watch top gear now!' and it's his last minute to 'night night time' (he has a ten min countdown) Is enough to start a meltdown,but it's at times like this I'm confused,do I give in and let him? or do I stick to my guns as I normally do and say no! it's bed time ?

And thank you alimac87 believe me at times I feel I cold have dealt with situations better,just reading through all the posts,I should really back off some of my demands on him,when he's in meltdown that is,We never talk about it afterwards with him,and now I see that maybe I should try to get him to talk about it.
When he's in a meltdown I have always tried to touch him,cuddle him,distract him,Talk to him (shout over him)I can see now that I need to back off!!
I didn't realise this was all to much for him,

Once again,thank you all!!!!!
I have also left a message with my pead,who has got me on courses before,asking her to get us on 'something' to help us understand and deal with these situations better....
onwards and upwards smile

alimac87 Tue 26-Feb-13 08:53:58

And just to put things in perspective, both my kids (who aren't ASd as far as I know) have gone to sleepovers, come back and acted appallingly the day after basically because they were exhausted and crotchety. All that excitement and mild stress just builds up and up and up.

Sounds like you're dealing with it incredibly well even if it's horrible.

inthewildernessbuild Mon 25-Feb-13 23:37:39

Not because he hates you. You just represent a prescence/voice overwhelming him.

inthewildernessbuild Mon 25-Feb-13 23:36:40

I think if you can imagine, in case of your son, that he is just about keeping the overload at bay and someone asks him to do something (normal). It is the straw and camel back. He is saying STOP STOP I don't want to hear anything process anything. He is fighting off an intolerable overload at that moment. It is you, because you are the person most likely to communicate with him when he is that state, just by virtue of being his mother.

inthewildernessbuild Mon 25-Feb-13 23:32:13

Reading this with interest. My 10 year old rarely has violent meltdowns, but he does have screaming fits over things he feels he should be allowed to do (like watch a particular programme) or things his siblings have said or done to him. His NT sister does have violent, screaming, kicking meltdowns when overtired,where she will lie on the floor blocking stairs for example. Having an ASD child has given me some strategies to deal with her, ironically hmm

Today The ASD son had a screaming fit, and snapped out of it really quickly because we distracted him with humour shock. He was lying on the floor kicking, and screaming, demanding Top Gear instead of reading task, and I said watch out for the shark, what beautiful teeth you have, and he started to giggle and that was that...shock However that would never work for Dd who would have complete SHF over such comments. We find ignoring, but being empathetic works. No punishments, no ultimatums. Lots of How To Talk strategies. She is so much better these days. But she desperately wanted to feel acknowledged, and that was where anger came from, with her. ASD child is a different kettle of fish. He just REACTS to stuff, so it is queston of distracting and redirecting him. And staying really calm/quite firm. He is tyrannical and I think it is a relief to him to know the rules in the nicest possible way.

For her, the rules just make her feel worse and angrier.

TimidLivid Mon 25-Feb-13 22:30:12

Two hours sleep and that much social interaction would be definately causing this meltdown . Always happened to my ds until we spotted a pattern. He needs settled down to sleep asap as little talkabout it as possible and punishment won't help it is tiredness that must have triggered it , tomorrow he won't be able to tell why he was in such a state but it is tiredness and the length of the social interaction he had. Just my experience. My dsd was eight when he stayed over behaved well then came home and asttacked me for no reason then was really upset, it was tiredness and still happens if he has people over or stays over and he is 13 now.

porridgeLover Mon 25-Feb-13 21:43:08

Good luck crazy. My DS is a similar age and I would rarely have melt-downs any more. Thats because of intensive work on myself grin so I manage him better than when he was smaller.

I would have also read lots of other parenting approaches (naughty steps etc etc) and none of them work. I think it's because it assumes that the child has insight about how they feel and when it all got too much for them.
For my DS, thats not the case. I've had to realise that emotionally he is at a 4 or 5 yo level.

piedpiper4 Mon 25-Feb-13 21:32:51

One thing I've learnt with my dd is that all the 'training' Nanny 911 and the like say doesn't work for her. My dd's therapist told me that when she has a meltdown her fight and flight mechanism kicks in and that she is no longer operating on, or capable of, rational thought. She is basically running on pure adrenaline because the world has just got too much and she is 'fighting' to retain her control. Once I started to look at it like that its made it easier for me to not only handle, but also parent, the situations.

crazygal Mon 25-Feb-13 17:06:27

Thank you all.
you have given us a great insight!
today has been a much calmer day smile
I'm not sure if I should bring it up in conversation to him,he normally closes up anyway and doesn't want to talk.
biddypop ive done the incredable years course twice now,and although very good,some of it simply dosen't work for ds,
porridge thats a book ive just picked up today,plus one on understanding meltdowns,
It should all help.x

yuckythingsonthefloor Mon 25-Feb-13 17:02:53

crazygal there is a great book called Aspergers and Difficult Moments which utterly explains what is going on in a meltdown and things to do/not do before/during/afterwards which you might find helpful.

My DS had an awful one a few days ago and it is deeply stressful. I hope you are feeling better and giving yourself some care also.

porridgeLover Mon 25-Feb-13 13:51:37

crazy I'd agree with everyone else that these are meltdowns and that it's better to think of them in terms of a panic attack rather than the child choosing to be naughty to get their own way.

If anything, I think it's more like a complete loss of control. That it's a build up of stress that has to come out somewhere, and home is where it is safe to be that awful.

I found 'How to talk so kids will listen' good. I think, because my DS has HFA, he has little insight to his own emotions or feelings, and doesn't see his own stress rising.
Using that approach has given him the lingo to label how he's getting annoyed.

It doesn't always work for him, but it works for me. Melt-downs are now a 'go to your room and come out when you are calm' time. Then we can have a reasonable chat about what actually happened.

BiddyPop Mon 25-Feb-13 12:50:46

We did a parenting course too, which helped in ways (recommended everything we were already doing but reminded us about consistency) - but that was aimed at NT kids. I am trying to get onto an "Incredible Years" course, as recommended by her psych, but not having any luck yet (almost 1 yr on from DX) - at least I've now found somewhere that DOES it. It's trial and error mostly though, so far, in our case.

BiddyPop Mon 25-Feb-13 12:48:21

I only saw this this morning, but yes, it sounds familiar.

With us (DD 7 has ADHD Asp), the meltdowns happen after an event that we would love but that we've now realised can be very stressful for DD - even a family dinner (wider family). It's that she's been taken outside her routine, and her comfort zone - she will "manage" while she's "on show" in public, and behave (relatively) normally. But when she is back in private, with just DH and I (and the au pair too now), so in "secure" surroundings, she can relax the control she has kept on herself and it all comes flooding out.

(I am generalising madly in that explanation - but that's the basic gist of it).

What we have found can help is talking about the event in advance, telling DD and letting her ask lots of questions about HOW something will happen, who will be there, what sort of noise levels, etc. Having a plan for what will happen if she feels overwhelmed while there (having something to colour in, or her ds in my handbag to sit in a corner and play, or knowing that DH is her "go to" person to take her out for a few minutes at her recent birthday party, for example). And that both DD and ourselves know that plan in advance (it may NOT be needed, but knowing it's there has seemed to help).

And when it all kicks off, try to leave her alone to calm down (she retreats under the bench at the far side of the table), or take her to a quiet space (like into the sitting room with lights dim and no tv/radio/computer etc.) to sit with her or leave her alone (depends on what seems most needed). She does absolutely rage sometimes, but if we can help her move through that without provoking or escalating it, she will become very sad and remorseful afterwards, not necessarily realising what she's done wrong or feeling empathy with us, but having gotten something out of her system so we then end up going about the evening routine as normal (it's very often Sunday nights), or near normal at least. Sometimes, we end up skipping the bath but often she wants to stick to what we normally do rather than skip anything - so we'd end up still having a bath but perhaps cutting it a little short and putting it on a timer (she rows far less with the timer ringing at the end of 5 minutes than with us saying 5 minutes is up after maybe 10, as it couldn't possibly be 5 yet!).

And we always have a drink of milk at bedtime anyway, but on stressy nights, we give her some "rescue remedy night" as well in water, which she accepts and does seem to help her calm down. Even just a glass of cold water with nothing in it can help.

But she does seem to need a place to almost hide away even from us at times - and it is best then to let her do that and come down in her own time (5-10 mins usually) rather than increasing other stresses.

triplePsoup Sun 24-Feb-13 22:11:15

I would agree with others that hardly any sleep or food would mean a big change in behavior for my NT daughter so for my son it would be 4-fold. We are luckily enough to of never experienced a melt down so extreme but who knows in the future may be we will. It must of been awful for all involved.

There have been two occassions I have seen my sons meltdowns escalate more than usual and both times I tried to step back a little and allow it to take its course. I also tend to pay a lot of attention to what may bring on a meltdown (getting quite good at seeing into the future now wink) and always be sure to give him space to himself doing something that he enjoys with as little interuptions as possible. I wouldn't use punishment for this as I see it as a 'getting everything out of his system moment' and I don't think I would ever try to enforce any punishments on him during one as I believe this would just escalate it further. But I would talk to him about it afterwards. We leave out all things that could be put off until tomorrow (showers/teeth/hair anything like that).

I'm glad everything has calmed. For now I would sit you down and have a nice wine. smile

lougle Sun 24-Feb-13 21:50:00

It changes with age, too. DD1 is 7 now, but because she has some gross motor and fine motor issues, she can't actually hurt us much, unless she has her Piedro boots on. For her, the best way of handling it is to try and get her boots off as a priority. Feet don't do as much damage as boots. Then, we just try and keep the other girls away (not easy) and ignore unless it's dangerous.

She tends to have less out and out meltdowns now (although she does) and more of a...'stuck in a rut' times, where she's obviously frustrated or angry or upset and she just has to keep pushing and ramping up her actions until we tell her off..it's hard to explain. For instance, she was running into our carer's lounge (not allowed) and every time she was retrieved, she'd do it again. When that didn't get the response she wanted, she started hitting. Then eventually, she was spinning on the floor, kicking her cupboard doors. Wilfull, so not 'meltdown' in terms of awareness, but on some level I don't think even she knew what she was trying to achieve.

DD3 has some incredible rages over the smallest things. I find that anything I do fuels her rage, positive or negative. So I just have to ride it out, ignoring her as if she wasn't even there. Today she was pushing me as I was ironing a name tag on a skirt, deliberately trying to get a reaction. I ignored it. She followed me up the stairs screeching at me over and over again. I ignored it and spoke to DH as if she wasn't doing it. She started to kick things and screech. I ignored it. Eventually, when she calmed a little, I was able to offer a hug. But she couldn't accept it. She wanted me to make all the moves (it's a control thing). I said to her that I'd meet her half way, I had my arms up, but that she had to come to me. She did, eventually.

Dinkysmummy Sun 24-Feb-13 21:16:18

crazygal
My dd hasn't got a diagnosis but I'm sure she is PDA-ASD.
I have tried all the supernanny techniques, I have read books on parenting challenging children, 123 magic, dealing with tantrums, none of it works.
The thing is you know your DS more than anyone, if you know what works for your family than you have to do that.

I really feel for you, I hope you feel better in the morning and can get some helpful advice from pead.

thanks

crazygal Sun 24-Feb-13 20:56:20

Thing is,myself and dh have done different parenting courses trying to get the family help and understanding...
and I think now we have done the wrong ones!
Without a doubt they have helped,but when these people came round to my house they seen him kick off,and made me put him in the 'naughty' step!
which of course never worked,and its something we don't do,ever...we ask him to go and find a calm down spot which sometimes he does,and like you dinky he wont let you look at him,which is fine,he comes round in his own time...
Feels like everything we have been told is the oppisit to how he should be handled...
feeling very upset tonight...but I'm going to have to get up,brush myself down and get the help he needs...we see his pead this week,maybe she can guide us somewhere.

Dinkysmummy Sun 24-Feb-13 20:39:22

I really feel for you...it is hard for everyone involved when DCs have meltdowns.

My 5 year old dd has this type of meltdown (but with added spitting).

When she is physically attacking me I hug her from behind. I hold her hands across her chest and place my chin on her shoulder and stay cheek to cheek. At first it makes it worse but when I rock back and forth and whisper it calms her. If she is screaming, banging and throwing things I tend to tell her to stop which she hates and then she goes under the table. She calms herself down under there (but I'm not allowed to look at her because it starts off the physical attacks and throwing things again)
After I try to let her do what suits her (as long as it is acceptable). Yes I skip her shower on those days because it can be tough enough at the best of times for her to comply with shower time.

As for punishments. I tend to take tv or games away, but tell her long after she has calmed down as it might have been a panic attack for her but there are better ways of dealing with it than attacking me.

Handywoman Sun 24-Feb-13 20:31:48

I know how hard it is, crazygal. Try and remember there will be things that cause your ds to have a meltdown that you either don't see (e.g. holding it together at school) or understandably don't appreciate (sensory overload, unstructured social situations, change of routine etc). You can't expect to get it right every time but you can start to know a bit about when to adapt and pace your expectations.

crazygal Sun 24-Feb-13 20:17:29

In the end i took him out of the shower as he was shaking so much and kickinf the door,I just wrapped the towel tightly round him and tried to cuddle him,he started crying,and saying he hated me!
He came down stairs and we let him watch got to dance which he loves,
after 10mins i whispered are you ok?he just nodded yes,he looked very tired..

I think a visit to the library for me tomorrow to get myself educated on this sad
feel so bloody stupit...
I just sometimes don't know what to do!
Around tescos the other day he had a meltdown,I ignored it all the way round,he kept running for me,kicking me full belt,and spitting at me....
He seems to be getting worse lately...
I don't know,It's hard,Its like waking on eggshells at times.

Goodtalkingtoo Sun 24-Feb-13 20:09:59

My son does this too. When my son has been through something outside his usual routine etc a meltdown is always pending, however after many years, he's 14 of trial and error I find the following helps

Have nothing planned for when he returns
Have everything quiet, settled, just watching tv, playing computer games etc
Don't push things like showers, no harm will be done if he misses it that day
I usually just have finger foods, as the whole what would you like for dinner is a red rag to a bull in this house.

However if meltdown begins I make sure my son is safe, then walk away. I say nothing, don't react.

When it's over and he has settled, can be that day, next day, I punish him by removing Xbox etc. if I try punishment during episode it puts fuel on fire but I cannot allow him to think its acceptable

PolterGoose Sun 24-Feb-13 20:08:17

I don't punish at all for anything done or said during a meltdown, the very nature of it means a total loss of control, usually as a result of anxiety and panic which are either at very high levels and/or have been suppressed and then come out later. In my view punishment, if used at all, should only be used for things where there was intent. A meltdown is like an emotional explosion.

After the meltdown your child will be exhausted and maybe a bit shakey, because of the hormones, a nice drink and snack and something calming is absolutely best. Carry on as if nothing has happened. Maybe the next day or a couple of days later have a gentle chat, remember your child will not have enjoyed it and it wasn't a manipulative action, it may have scared him, talk in terms of what led to it, talk about relaxation and things that may have helped that he can try next time he feels it coming. Discuss the physical feelings that may give him clues he is heading for meltdown. Plan ways to avert another (which won't work all the time, but may work some of the time) eg physical activity, reading, watching a calm DVD, cuddles and singing, whatever helps.

Handywoman Sun 24-Feb-13 20:06:43

I think 2 hrs sleep at someone else's house is pretty extreme. You were deffo right to encourage the sleepover (something we have not managed) it and it's fab it went well. Big success! But... tbh I would have skipped the shower because your ds has been WELL out if his comfort zone. I think that despite the swearing etc I would allow him to calm down as quickly as possible above all else. I would not discuss til the following day, if at all (depending on your dc's ability to 'reflect', my dd has no ability to do this whatsoever).I think the panic attack is a very good analogy.

crazygal Sun 24-Feb-13 20:04:30

Yes...Its certainly a learning curve!
He ate nothing this eve either,but yes Walter4 he had a half hr of cuddles with dad,and fell asleep....
Thank you all.
I'm learning so much of you x

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