Easier said than done.
A common problem that strangers who don’t really get autism is that they don’t understand the difference between when a child is having a meltdown versus a child who is having a tantrum. Most people know that a tantrum is usually someone who is trying to get attention while a meltdown is the overload of a certain child’s senses in one way or another.
If I had a nickel for every time a parent has sat me down to tell me about a horror story of their kid having a meltdown in a public place I’d be a rich. These situations tend to follow a comment from a stranger such as ‘a parent with a well behaved child would never act out like that’ or ‘let me tell you how you can help your child stop that.’
I really wish people would stop being this ignorant when they say comments like that. I’m not a parent but, while growing up with autism, I remember my parents having to go through these comments from time to time. It’s brutal. My parents aren’t bad parents. My parents are my champions and some of my greatest advocates I could ever ask for.
What I tell parents today is while positive reinforcement, noise canceling headphones and weighted blankets can help among other things, my strongest recommendation has always been to try and remove potential triggers that can start a meltdown in the first place.
Other times though you just have to understand that there won’t be a fix. You are going to have to wait a meltdown out. With that being there for your child and them knowing your in the room can make a world of difference. Never forget that.
And for those strangers out there who have a comment they want to make please think more about the words you are going to say before you say them. We all have challenges; some that are visible while others are not. One of my favorite quotes of all-time is something I hope you will takeaway next time around…
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama