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Meltdowns

(19 Posts)
babyinarms Mon 03-Apr-17 21:40:10

Ds is 12 . Diagnosed with ASD 3 years ago. He's always been a quiet child and more likely to have a shutdown rather than a meltdown . Lately he seems to be having more shutdowns and a few meltdowns. These meltdowns are new and I'm taken back by them. He throws himself on the floor and hits it or throws something. We've never had this. I'm starting to think it's puberty. Has anyone else experienced this at this age ???.... just confused and finding it a bit overwhelming ..... do I punish him after it???.... not sure how to deal with this. Thanks .

FrayedHem Mon 03-Apr-17 21:57:58

The start of puberty saw my DS1 becoming more anxious and switching from shut down to meltdowns. There was also a few problems at school which took some time to get to the bottom of. So I would try and see if there could also be something else bothering him. I wouldn't punish, try and think of it as a louder shut-down - and see if you can work back any specific trigger. DS1 became a lot more conscious of his differences compared to his peers and he was very conflicted over being him and being "like everyone else".

DS1 is not much of a reader but he does regularly read this book and it has helped him. www.amazon.co.uk/Growing-Up-Book-Boys-Spectrum/dp/1849055750?tag=mumsnetforum-21. He's even started washing his hair properly!

zzzzz Mon 03-Apr-17 23:09:22

I think that puberty does change things but I think it's avmistake to assume that's the cause (though keep it in mind). I've made the mistake of minimising ds's distress and "explaining it away". Are you SURE things aren't harder for him at the moment?

babyinarms Mon 03-Apr-17 23:15:27

Than you frayedhem. Yes, I kind of think his anxiety is rising also. He had 2 days off school last week with tummy cramps and tummy upset but nothing specific. He says everything's OK at school but I know he finds it difficult to understand his emotions and reactions to things.
So far I've dealt with the meltdowns by explaining that we need to find another way for him to deal with his anger / annoyance at us .... but I really haven't come up with solutions. I haven't punished him but have told him I will if this continues....maybe that was the wrong thing to do !
I'll definitely look into that book, weve had 'the talk' but definitely need a book to help us along I'd say.
I'm dreading puberty tbh.... I can him changing already x

babyinarms Mon 03-Apr-17 23:20:24

Zzzz, I'm not sure really ! He's not a talker and always says everything's fine , even when I find out later that things weren't !
He's had a busy few weeks with lots happening in a short period of time. Lots of family events and days out....maybe it's too much for him !
I also feel the routine at school at the moment is all over the place cos they had 50th year celebrations, lots of football, rugby blitzes etc and no routine to speak of. He's on 2 weeks hols starting next week, I'm hoping some down time will help him.
If he doesn't settle after the hols, I will call into school and see if they've noticed anything with him .

FrayedHem Mon 03-Apr-17 23:54:06

DS1 described the change to me that when he used to get anxious, he used to feel ill and everything went quiet but now he gets very angry and doesn't know why. He is more open to talking at bedtime but direct questions get us nowhere. The big reveal came when he got out of bed worrying that he was a pyromaniac(!). 3 hours later we had the whole story (school).

For day-to-day anxiousness, maybe try a few sensory/stress things to see if it will help him manage some of the overload. DS1 quite likes stress-balls. We tried a fiddle cube but he only likes that set in a certain way and he doesn't get anything out of it.

Hopefully the holidays will be restorative, but it may be worth contacting the school anyway to see if anything had been going on. It may appear minor to them, but it could be much bigger to your DS IYKWIM.

babyinarms Tue 04-Apr-17 00:15:47

Yes Frayed.... I know he finds deep pressure helpful. I might try that over the next few days to see if it can help him.
Like your ds, direct questioning doesn't work here either. I might try the stress balls also.
You're poor ds , worrying like that !
It's so tough on kids with asd to understand and deal with stressful / emotional situations. It makes it difficult to get to the root cause of the behaviour.

youarenotkiddingme Tue 04-Apr-17 06:59:05

My ds the same - also says "fine" when I can clearly see he isn't!
He's the same age and meltdowns have increased whilst shutdowns have decreased as well. I've also thought it may be due to hormones but I've been very aware that the hormones may change the reaction but the ultimate thing is that he's still distressed and that's likely not hormone related iyswim?

He's just started CBT. What I've been asked to do is record any outbursts or anxiety. The situation, what his ultimate fear (thought was) and the behaviour. Would your ds be able to communicate this with you?

babyinarms Tue 04-Apr-17 07:33:05

Thanks youarenotkiddingme. Like your ds he never says anything is wrong. I'll definitely keep a record of shutdowns/ meltdowns and try to see a pattern. I'll definitely ask him the questions you suggested and see what answers i get.
Yesterday he said he was 'annoyed ' at me and couldn't help throwing himself on the floor and hitting it. My other 2 dcs laughed at him ( they thought he was joking ) which only escalated things.... I wasn't cross with them cos they really thought he was messing around .
I had only asked him to turn off the light and tv in the playroom but he was half way up the stairs on his way to bed ..... not sure why he reacted like that cos I do ask him to do things for me....now he might sulk and huff about it but never reacted like this to a request before.
The meltdowns seem to come out of no where but I'm sure that's not true. Previously it was because I gave out to him for hurting his little brother.

mummytime Tue 04-Apr-17 08:56:15

Something I have found useful and wish someone had told me is: Emotions are a Social construct. They are not just a psychological reaction, but something that is culturally constructed.

Personally I think this explains why my DD used to "lose it" whenever I asked her about her emotions or "how she felt", as had no idea what she should feel and struggled to put he mental state into words.

In your DS's case I think the disruption at school is a major factor, and I'd probably try to talk to school and see if they can re-insert some regularity and routine. I would also try to find some de-stressing techniques: time alone, exercise, even screen time.

With our children it can get extra challenging if friends "mature" faster and go on to new interests etc.

To be honest you need to be his advocate (including with his siblings) and to make the basic ground rules clear eg. no hurting other people. Good luck!

babyinarms Tue 04-Apr-17 10:32:44

Thanks mummytime. I do feel he's trying to keep up with his friends , who are streets ahead of him emotionally and socially....but they're not overly streetwise, just typical 12 year old iykwim!
I did tell his siblings not to laugh at him but i didn't give out to them cos they misunderstood what was happening. .... I explained that ds was upset and that laughing at him only made it worse....they did understand then.
I will approach the school and see if they can help with a better routine. I find at the moment he needs predicability more than ever!
I also find asking him how he feels doesn't work. ...cos he doesn't low how he feels.
I have told him he can go to his room for quiet time if he needs it and jumping on the trampoline sometimes helps too.
It's a new phase and hopefully I'll adapt and find ways to help him cope. Secondary school is looming in Sept and that's causing some anxiety too I'm sure. He will have a transition programme starting after easter so that may help ..... just when I thought everything was gong well for him....things start changing, but that's life !

babyinarms Tue 04-Apr-17 10:36:36

Just a question about meltdowns.... I know kids feel out of control during one but are they aware of what's happening around them? Ds seemed to be aware.... he got worse when his siblings laughed at him....this is confusing me a bit as I thought in a meltdown that they were not aware of what was happening around them..... or maybe I'm wrong about that .

mummytime Tue 04-Apr-17 11:12:26

I found secondary school was much better (but they were sympathetic to needs). Much more routine, no silly dress up days.

PolterGoose Tue 04-Apr-17 12:11:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolterGoose Tue 04-Apr-17 12:12:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

babyinarms Tue 04-Apr-17 13:27:22

Thanks Polter. I guess I'm used to dealing with shutdowns....I let him ride it out and then he needs a rest after ....it's as if he's exhausted after one.... I can apply the same mechanism to the meltdowns I suppose and make suggestions when he's in a good place mentally re coping strategies.
That video was very insightful. ...it looks like a build up over time and everything gets too much.
At least I know now not to punish the behaviour also .
Mummy time, glad to hear secondary was easier for ye cos part of me is dreading the change tbh.

mummytime Tue 04-Apr-17 16:05:26

All I can say is talk to the school lots and ask what steps they will take. If you have any specific flash points that you are worried about, then ask about them. We discussed bells and fire alarms, DD had a "escape card" incase it became too much. Her heads of year have also been fully aware and helpful, as have other senior teachers.
Although they change class every hour or so, it is so much more predictable which has been a huge help.

babyinarms Wed 05-Apr-17 10:10:06

Thanks mummytime.... will Def keep in touch with the school, especially in Sept .... I'm am going the time table and schedule in secondary school will help cos it's more of an established routine. Thanks again .

babyinarms Wed 05-Apr-17 10:10:32

Hoping the time tabe !

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