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ASD and meltdowns

(61 Posts)
Anotherday39 Sun 10-Mar-19 14:54:06

My 9 year old (possible ASD) is screaming hysterically and calling us name because we won't let him on Fortnite.

He has been at a party, which wwe made him go to.

What the hell do I do? He is hysterical

jaseyraex Sun 10-Mar-19 15:54:01

Ah OP, we braved our first birthday party with 4 year old DS yesterday and I spent most of the evening wishing we hadn't! I have to just leave mine to it when he has a meltdown. So far he doesn't call names or throw things or anything, just screams and screams and screams for what feels like hours!
Is there anything other than computer games that are soothing for your DS? We have lava lamps in DS room which can calm him down a bit quicker (if we can get him to sit in front of them).
If you're really struggling then you need to tell CAHMS and see if they can help more with strategies for getting through the meltdown.

Comefromaway Sun 10-Mar-19 16:02:09

It takes a lot of energy for autistic people to be social especially in Ann overstimulation get atmosphere. Dd and ds describe it as being mentally and physically draining.

It’s important to give them some down time after such an event. Gaming can be a release and be calming for them. It allows them to decompress.

icelolly99 Sun 10-Mar-19 16:07:41

Fattymcfaterson because it's a PEGI 12; child is 9......

Comefromaway Sun 10-Mar-19 16:19:16

I had assumed that he was allowed Fortnite, just not today or with time limits.

42isthemeaning Sun 10-Mar-19 16:26:51

Op you have my sympathies. My asd ds (10) is exactly the same. I find that a gradual, staged, weaning off of the game time helps; eg fifteen mins before you want him to stop, sit and engage yourself with what he's watching/playing, keep reminding him that he has ten mins, five mins, etc. It doesn't always work, but it has been a lot more successful for us than just telling him it's time up, which has resulted in both dh and I being attacked.

Thankfuckitsfriday1 Sun 10-Mar-19 16:33:41

Why did you make him go?

Parties are HUGE for autistic kids and can be such a large cause of stress and anxiety if they have one coming up.

My sons autistic and during meltdown i try

- offering food or drink
- offering his weighted blanket
- our on a film for him or his fav show
- leave him alone on his own to calm down

Telling him off will make it worse and they can’t control actual meltdowns. It’s a scary things for them so support is needed. I know how hard it is though and i really do sympathise. It can feel so very overwhelming at times

Thankfuckitsfriday1 Sun 10-Mar-19 16:35:24

colehawlins hit the nail on the head

EggysMom Sun 10-Mar-19 16:40:19

If letting him have what he wants (Fortnite) would calm him down, it's not a meltdown - it's a tantrum.

DoomOnTheBroom Sun 10-Mar-19 16:41:25

Fortnite is PEGI 12; OP's child is 9.....

Content-wise, Fortnite is no worse than Minecraft. The only reason it's PEGI 12 is because of the online chat function but that doesn't present a problem if children are monitored while playing and the mic can be muted anyway. PEGI is a guide and parents should make their own decisions based what they think is acceptable content.

OP, my DS is the same age as yours and is autistic. Not all strategies work for all children but some of the things that help him calm down if he's not yet at exploding point are a bath (takes a while to talk him into it but he's instantly calmer in the water), a snack or a drink, chewing on a chew toy, a run around in the garden, and gaming time. Once he reaches exploding point then all we can do is make sure he's somewhere safe/contained and leave him to burn out as anything we do will only fuel it then once he's finished we have cuddles and we talk about it.

The party will have burned him out, now you know that this is a trigger for him you can work around it in future by doing things like leaving the party early (e.g., only staying for an hour) or giving him time to self-regulate when he gets home (e.g., by gaming).

When you're in the early days of ASD parenting there is a lot of trial and error but you'll figure out what works for you and your child based on experience. Two books I'd recommend are The Explosive Child and How to Raise a Happy Autistic Child. It could also be worth looking at what support groups there are locally as they often have education workshops for parents as well as activity sessions and events specifically for autistic children and their families, it makes such a difference being around people who understand what it's like.

werideatdawn Sun 10-Mar-19 17:11:01

EggysMom yep, agreed. You can see how people end up with these aggressive video game addicted 16 year olds when it begins this way.

DoomOnTheBroom Sun 10-Mar-19 17:17:46

If letting him have what he wants (Fortnite) would calm him down, it's not a meltdown - it's a tantrum.

Oh do fuck off.

yep, agreed. You can see how people end up with these aggressive video game addicted 16 year olds when it begins this way.

And you.

Fortnite has been the trigger for the meltdown but not the cause. My own DS does this. He'll be stressed about one thing and then something else entirely will trigger him off, he may scream and shout about that something (Fortnite in the OP's case) but giving in and letting him have Fortnite wouldn't stop the meltdown.

elliejjtiny Sun 10-Mar-19 17:20:24

I find wrapping my ds in a duvet and hugging him helps.

Allfednonedead Sun 10-Mar-19 17:35:09

Hi OP, I noticed you mentioned sleep refusal. We have been giving our DS(8) melatonin for almost a year - initially to help him get to sleep but by now even more because we discovered that having a bit extra sleep makes him sooo much less anxious and meltdowns are rarer and milder.
After asking for a referral to CAMHS to make the melatonin an official prescription (we were just getting friends to bring it from the states), we finally saw a psychiatrist this week.
She basically said she thought all children with ASD should try it to see if it helps.
It seems they often don’t produce melatonin naturally, so find it hard to get to sleep, however tired they are.
It won’t help today, obviously, but if you are talking to CAMHS about sleep, ask about melatonin. It has genuinely improved DS’s life hugely.

ColeHawlins Sun 10-Mar-19 17:41:27

* If letting him have what he wants (Fortnite) would calm him down, it's not a meltdown - it's a tantrum.*

Absolute twaddle.

Waveysnail Sun 10-Mar-19 17:46:29

If you allow him on xbox right now would he just turn it off? If so to me that's not a meltdown as he's in control

Waveysnail Sun 10-Mar-19 17:47:00

I have asd children

Chouetted Sun 10-Mar-19 17:47:34

I dunno, we could use that theory on other needs.

"if having a meal calms him down, he's not hungry, he's just having a tantrum"

"If having some sleep calms him down, he's not overtired, he's having a tantrum".

We can refuse to meet basic needs and dismiss any complaints as people having a tantrum. It would save so much time a effort!

Imacliche Sun 10-Mar-19 17:49:32

Music works for my son. But hes only 2.
Distraction is key for asd/autistic kids in my opinion. Divert the stress elsewhere

DoomOnTheBroom Sun 10-Mar-19 17:51:20

As well as melatonin, a weighted blanket can help at bedtime. DS has proprioception and vestibular deficits so being still is disorientating and uncomfortable for him, bedtime used to be a nightmare as he was never tired and wouldn't lie down. The melatonin helps him to feel tired and the weighted blanket gives him the sensory feedback he needs to be calm. It's not perfect, we still get nights where he's up and down until nearly midnight and he has periodic cycles of insomnia but it's much better than it used to be.

DoomOnTheBroom Sun 10-Mar-19 17:54:52

I don't know how it is with the OPs son but with DS if he was triggered off by not being allowed Fortnite and I then gave in and said you can go on Fortnite he wouldn't go on it, he would instead switch from shouting about going Fortnite to shouting that he's not going on it, no one wants him to go on it, so he won't go on it, are we happy now!?, etc etc.

reefedsail Sun 10-Mar-19 18:05:30

*After asking for a referral to CAMHS to make the melatonin an official prescription (we were just getting friends to bring it from the states), we finally saw a psychiatrist this week.
She basically said she thought all children with ASD should try it to see if it helps.*

My NHS trust is not making any further prescriptions for melatonin, including repeats so all kids currently taking it are coming off it, because they say there is not enough research that it is safe.

BollocksToBrexit Sun 10-Mar-19 18:11:05

I don't get the 'if the meltdown stops when the cause is addressed then it's a tantrum not a meltdown' posts. I have meltdowns occasionally when I'm completely overwhelmed by a situation. If someone then takes some of my burden away I can get it back under control. It doesn't mean I'm having a tantrum.

Chouetted Sun 10-Mar-19 18:17:15


My rampant cynicism has led to me to observe that it is an extremely irregular verb.

I am having a meltdown
You are having a tantrum
He/She is exhibiting challenging behaviour

RaspberryRuffless Sun 10-Mar-19 18:25:11

I’ve always understood the difference between tantrum and meltdowns to be similar to the other posts, if the behaviour stops when you get your own way, it’s a tantrum. However, I also understand that may not be the case for everyone. The only experience I have is my son who has ASD. He’ll have meltdown over things like having to put shoes on to go to the car, or because his blankets don’t feel “right”, but even after these issues are resolved, he doesn’t just snap out of it and he’s probably forgotten what he’s even having a meltdown over. A tantrum has a goal, a meltdown is loss of control.

OP, maybe your son is overwhelmed from the party, being around people, noise etc and now not being allowed on fortnite has just pushed him over the edge, my son is 14 but what I find helps is just sitting listening to him vent and acknowledging his feelings, I usually try rub his hand or his head. It can take a while to calm down though. Or if he wants to be on his own I’ll just tell him that’s fine and I can come back if he wants me to.

Chouetted Sun 10-Mar-19 18:36:53

My experience is that they can be linked - ie, I might have a tantrum out of sheer desperation because I know that I'm on the edge of a meltdown if I don't get what I want (some help maybe, or a break, or for you to stop touching me like that).

I mean, if it's still going to be seen as all my fault whether I have a tantrum or a meltdown, I may as well have the tantrum while I still have some chance of avoiding the meltdown.

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