Monday, August 3, 2009

Meltdowns vs. Tantrums

Just to clarify things, in my opinion, a meltdown and a tantrum are two different beasts. In all fairness, both are really hard to deal with, cause great embarrassment when brandished in public and make you question your decision to have become a parent in the first place! Although, if you're new to being humiliated publicly, you may find comfort in the knowledge that you do actually get used to it, and it is possible to reach that place where you no longer care what other people think! Honest.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that Aiden is constantly having public meltdowns, because he's not. BUT, when they happen, they're doozies! Like, awful. But, that's all in a day's work.

Back to my distinctions...and this is all opinion here folks, but I do believe I am right nonetheless. A tantrum, which can be thrown by any manner of child, old, young, typical, usually a plea to get their own way. It is an attempt to outlast you,shame you, overcome you, possibly scare you...all with the ultimate goal of getting their own way. If their tantrum're in big trouble, because they'll come faster, and more furiously in the future!

A meltdown however is when the child has actually lost all ability to handle their emotions. Whatever it is that is bugging them is now center stage in their life, and they just need to break free. Meltdowns can happen when they're overtired, overstimulated, overstressed, of over-anythinged. ( I think I just invented a word.) Aiden typically melts down when he has an idea that he can't materialize. For example, he has an image of a craft he'd like to make, but without Martha Stewart on site, it is just way beyond the realm of possible. Well, look out! There's no soothing possible, no nothing. The only thing I find that works is to take away whatever is agitating him, often by way of pulling from his abnormally strong grasp. BUT, when whatever has him overwhelmed is gone, instead of being angry, as he would be with a tantrum, he is almost RELIEVED to be freed from the stress.

Now, that's a meltdown.

And it's exhausting.

And it's a big part of autism.

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