The Lost and Tired family is once again struggling with daily meltdowns and ever increasing self-injurious behaviors. This is one of my very least favorite things to deal with because there is no clear cut right or wrong answer. As my son gets older and stronger, the severity of these meltdowns and self-injurious behaviors becomes greater and greater. We have been coping with severe meltdowns and self-injury for many, many years.
What makes this particularly challenging for me is the fact that more traditional methods or interventions don’t work with Gavin.
As with many Autistic children, everyone is unique in their own right and so it would stand to reason that behavioral interventions would vary as well. In Gavin’s case, we have had to employ a more aggressive approach. It’s not fun for me or my wife but it does have a proven track record of success. I’ll be real honest with you, when you’re dealing with meltdowns of this caliber, it becomes more about bringing it to an end, than taking a softer approach.
When these occur, the entire family is thrown into upheaval. The younger siblings are terrified and there is the constant fear or someone getting hurt, not mention that one of my neighbors are going to call the police.
The priorities are to immediately ensure everyone’s safety. That often times means evacuating the the rest of the family to an upstairs bedroom, while I deal with the meltdown. When self-injury becomes a problem, I have to find a way to restrict his movement without making physical contact, at least as much as humanly possible. If he is being unsafe with his hands, I require him to sit on them, until they are once again under control and not a threat to anyone or anything.
Likewise, when his feet and legs become dangerous, he is instructed to sit like a pretzel. This, at least in theory, limits his movement and ability to kick anyone or anything.
When these events occur, it’s not about making Gavin comfortable, it’s about literally surviving the meltdown and limiting the risk of injury.
As Gavin gets older and struggles more and more with self-injury, it becomes so important that I document as much as possible because there needs to be a clear record of what happened and why he’s injured. It’s sad, but we have to protect ourselves in the event that any of Gavin’s injuries are ever called into question. If you asked me 11 years ago if I ever thought I would have to be taking these measures, I wouldn’t even be able to imagine why that would ever be necessary.
Time changes many things and sometimes, those changes are not for the better.
In this video, this is meltdown number 2 for that day. I’m out of patience and it was really hard to remain as calm as I did. I have to use a very gruff voice and be very direct with him. I can’t play into anything that he says because a large portion of what he says if for the sole purpose of manipulating me by attempting to make me feel bad. There is a long documented history of this type of manipulation. I’m not being cruel, this is simply the only way we can survive these meltdowns and minimize the fallout.
[youtube width=”720″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdSdHlXghnE[/youtube]