There are times when the various people in The Boy’s life reach the end of their list of strategies, and pull back, saying, “I didn’t know what to do.”
I’m his mom, and I reach that point quite a bit.
When Grammy reached this point the other day, I thought a bit about exactly what it is that I do when The Boy is heading toward a meltdown.
- Try to get him seated and then sit myself.
- Listen to what is making him upset.
- Acknowledge his feelings (“That is upsetting. I’m sorry.”)
- Offer to help – this usually is “not possible,” according to The Boy.
- Try to redirect the conversation from THIS HAPPENED to WHAT WE WILL DO ABOUT IT.
- Offer suggestions. If these are rebuffed, ask “What can we do?”
- Repeat 2-6 until he is calm enough to come up with a plan moving forward. It may make no sense. It may be fantastical or improbable. But looking forward allows him to move on from what was upsetting him.
This can take some time, or no time at all. I’ve found that #2 is the most important, and that if you do this process enough, it becomes easier and easier for him to process.
This is what we do. It may not work for you – every kid with autism is different. It has worked for us, and helps build our relationship each time.