Loving My Autistic Daughter – A Story about Dealing With her Meltdown
As a parent to an Autistic Daughter, nothing has been more traumatic than the first time she had a Sensory Meltdown.
She initially became upset because I said “no” after she pointed to a bag of crisps at the grocery store.
Next she forced an irritated sob while pointing vigorously at the bag of crisps.
I matched her insistence. “I said NO!”.
She exploded into a hysterical bout of kicking, screaming and flailing on the ground. My motherly instincts intercepted the items flying off the shelves, shielding my daughter from harm. What followed next will be forever etched in my mind.
In all the commotion, I was able to hear the insults coming from angry patrons of the store.
I proceeded to lose control of all logic & reasoning.
In the heat of that moment, I felt blood boiling RAGE. Then I was hit with a wave of intense resentment towards my daughter. Finally, I was struck by my declaration that “I hate my life & I wish things were different.”
I can still feel my body shaking in anger. But it’s the paralyzing guilt for the cringeworthy thoughts towards my daughter & my life that haunts me to this day.
Of course, since then I’ve had time to digest what happened. I forgive myself for the flood of very-human emotions I experienced during that traumatizing event. I understand that MY DAUGHTER WAS SUFFERING at the time – and that is why she had a Meltdown.
I’ve learned that my Daughter WAS NOT THROWING A TEMPER TANTRUM often associated with “spoiled brats” who don’t get what they want. She experienced a SENSORY MELTDOWN which was a result of her nervous system becoming overwhelmed with her environment.
Her Autistic Mind was OVERWHELMED.
An autistic brain is wired differently, thus it interprets the outside world differently. Many things that are insignificant to our brains, can be very distressing for my autistic daughter. For example:
The Autistic may expend an exorbitant amount of energy to cope with all these incoming stressors.
It slowly builds up, then starts to become painful, until finally it’s simply UNBEARABLE.
The smallest “thing” can set it off. BOOM! The result is a SENSORY MELTDOWN – which unfortunately resembles a TEMPER TANTRUM.
Think about it, if you overload anything, it will break down. And it is the same with people. If a person is pushed beyond their limits, severe physical/emotional damage soon follows. Unfortunately, the autistic are even more prone to being “Neurologically Overloaded”.
If there is one thing you should take away from this blog, it’s that:
Loving someone with Autism is about making their world as comfortable as possible.
“…and that means keeping them calm”
Remember, the world from our point of view is often excruciating for them. And that’s why we see so many different coping mechanisms in the Autistic. They are just trying to get comfortable in their uncomfortable world.
Herein lies the brilliance of the Weighted Blanket and its Miraculous Benefits.
The way it works is fairly simple when explained by Occupational Therapists (who for decades, have been advocating the use of weighted blankets in the management of autism).
The “embrace” from a Weighted Blanket simulates a loving snuggle between parent and child. This is naturally a very Calming & Soothing experience, while being extremely valuable in preventing a meltdown. At a biochemical level, the body releases Calming & Soothing hormones. This combats the overwhelming stimuli that can accumulate throughout the day.
For those with Autism, management of stress requires patience, understanding & creativity. The calming effect of wearing a weighted blanket (even during the day) is part of a stress management routine that promotes health & longevity for both parent and child!
And it should be no surprise that the stress-lowering benefits have been enjoyed by every member of my family. This is why I declare that the Weighted Blanket will be the most important investment you will make this year!