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Meltdowns. Need some help.

(9 Posts)
Imbimba Mon 27-Jul-15 12:57:08

DS is 3yrs 10months. He has a severe speech delay and has an assessment with a pediatrician next month as we think he had some autistic traits and want to explore if there is anything more behind his speech delay.

Recently he has started having meltdowns. These are not tantrums. They last up to 45 mins and there is almost nothing we can do to get him to stop crying. He just wants to be held. A couple of times we have put him into bed and this has stopped it.

It's difficult to know what triggers them because he can't tell us, and we can't always tell if he's getting frustrated, angry, over-stimulated or whatever. One has been going almost continually for 2. 5 hrs now. DH is cuddling him in the other room. I don't know what to do or how to handle it. We have 2 other children and this is difficult for them as well.

Does anyone have any tips? I suppose this is just a moan. He is so lovely most of the time that I feel so blindsided when he gets like this.

PolterGoose Mon 27-Jul-15 13:13:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Imbimba Mon 27-Jul-15 14:37:39

Thank you PolterGoose.

Imbimba Mon 27-Jul-15 14:46:03

Just had a read of that thread and what you have said is really helpful actually. It also does help to know that we are not the only family going through things like this. Fortunately DS doesn't get violent, but he does like to grab my hair and my necklace which is uncomfortable and annoying for me so I will try to remember to tie it back and take off the necklace next time so I can focus
On being calm for DS.

He's back to his lovely, funny self now. DH and I have been talking about it lots and how we should deal with it so I will show him that other thread, PolterGoose. X

I always feel a fraud when I answer threads like this because my DS has no diagnosis and nobody IRL believes is. ..but the fact remains that he has issues whether people choose to believe us or not so I will tell you what seems to work for us.

have you heard of the incredible 5 point scale? This was a good starting point for us to talk about emotions escalating. It took me a while to notice what kind of behaviours came before a meltdown but with lots of detective work we are getting there. It's known as 'rumbling' and if you can pinpoint how your DS behaves in a run up to a meltdown and can work on strategies to calm down when he's calm (I know I know) beforehand then the scale (for you to suggest how he's acting/him to point at if he's able) and a list of rumbling behaviours could be the key to heading some of the meltdowns off before they begin

I don't know whether this will help or is of interest but just thought I'd throw it out there - my DS is very verbal, extremely articulate and can be very chatty...However he too is completely unable to tell us how he is feeling or let us know what triggers are. I think on the one hand anxiety and sensory stuff and demand avoidance makes him shut down but also I don't think he has any idea that things are escalating and once he reaches a '4' (usually extremely hyper or angry) There's no reasoning with him or communication at all. He has managed to tell me sometimes that he "loses his words" - I strongly believe I may be on the spectrum myself and I've absolutely experienced this sad

so anyway the only thing that works to calm him down (and it sometimes takes a long time) is putting him in his room where he generally carries on until burnout. but one of these has been an absolute godsend. I have tried many times to calm him myself but any interaction seems to make things worse and he can get very violent and distructive and either has no recollection of it afterwards or is very regretful..so for his and our (also have 2 other DC) safety it is best to leave him to it. He's nearly 4 and a half.

The only time I get 'involved' once he's in full swing is when we are out and about. knowing his warning signs has helped immensely getting him to a safe place and just holding him but I do get hurt in the process unfortunately

so I think the best you can do at present is talk to him about emotions and try and use some kind of visual representation of them escalating. I think it is a guessing game at times to know what has caused a meltdown. I always say "the trigger isn't necessarily the cause!" it's often a case of the last straw that broke the camels back grin but keeping a diary is supposed to help (a year on from starting one I'm not seeing any patterns but to be honest when you're in the thick of it it's hard to write stuff down or read it back!) best of luck to you; I hope you find some answers soon

PolterGoose Mon 27-Jul-15 19:18:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Imbimba Mon 27-Jul-15 20:09:22

NiceCupOfTea thank you so much for your reply. I have googled the 5 point scale and it looks very interesting - if only for us to start to recognise his triggers at this stage - maybe when he becomes more verbal we can use it with him.

DS loves those chairs at Ikea! I can see how they would be good as a place to calm down.

I think he is particularly bad at the moment as summer holidays mean a change to the usual routine - no nursery, big (noisy) sister around all day, Daddy around all day (teacher). I am hoping he will settle a bit soon.

Thank you Polter you have no idea how much that means

OP the chair is great, thoroughly recommend. I used to stop him spinning as I thought it made him worse but since allowing him free reign (within reason) he has taken to spinning back and forth in the chair rhythmically and it seems to calm/regulate him somehow. when I hold him during a meltdown I tend to rock him back and forth and that seems to help too

just a thought but could you put strategies in place now? I'm just thinking perhaps he understands more than he can communicate? in our case it was the opposite - I feel so awful for not realising sooner DS was using echolalia and an extensive vocabulary to communicate from a young age, I'm sure he didn't understand half as much as we thought he did sad but perhaps you could point to the numbers or different expressive faces on a scale and see if he associates them with his own feelings???

is there anything you can do to either make the holidays more like term time (does the nursery have a holiday club? can you get up and ready in the same way?) or have a visual representation of what's happening each day to ease anxieties over the uncertainty of the change? twinkl have some great resources

also does he have ear defenders or access to a music player with headphones if the noise gets too much?

I found this website and book really helpful when I first started to investigate our issues, don't know if your DS is displaying sensory issues but there are lots of tips to calm DC on there so worth a look grin

Imbimba Tue 28-Jul-15 07:20:56

NiceCupOfTea thank you, you've been so helpful.

I don't think DS would be able to tell us how he's feeling even with pictures. He couldn't point to a sad face, for instance. Or, if he did, it would be because he's learnt that 'sad' matches with that picture, without knowing what it means.

Nursery uses a visual timetable. Stupidly I never thought we'd need one at home, but it might help. I have been trying to keep mornings and evenings the same for him.

Still not sure about sensory issues. I think the only problems he has are with noises.

Lots for us to think about.

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