Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SPD/Aspergers Meltdown

Today Brianna had a meltdown. It started as something insignificant (even to her if she were to think about it tomorrow) and snowballed. Brianna doesn't handle being upset well and it usually quickly gets much worse and she sometimes can't settle on her own. Between having a total freak out in which she thrashes her own body around (risking hurting herself) and often throws/smashes items (risking hurting others' belongings) and needing a lot of pressure to feel comfortable and able to relax due to her SPD, I have often relied on full body restraint in these times. This involves me sitting on her hips (the strongest part of her body so my weight doesn't hurt her) and holding her legs with mine and her arms with mine to apply the most pressure. This both gives her the pressure she needs to be more aware of herself but still restraining her to prevent her from hurting herself or others' property.

Thankfully as she ages, these meltdowns happen less and less often. In fact, before tonight, the last one was over a year ago. She also settles a lot faster than she used to. Within 1 minute of applying a full body restraint she visibly calmed down and was able to hear me coaching her in relaxation techniques (slow deep breathing and so on).

I'll admit I'm a yeller. I yell too much. But thankfully, I'm also aware that in a meltdown I NEED to keep a calm, almost soft voice. Yes, I will raise the volume a bit so she can (hopefully) hear me over her own screaming, but I make sure to keep it calm. When she first started these major meltdowns around 6 years old, I just yelled and screamed back at her. One day I actually sent myself into an anxiety attack because I was so over frustrated with her and why nothing would work to calm her down. Since then I've learned that the meltdowns are most often out of her control and yelling just makes them worse as now, not only does she feel out of control, but there's no one there to help her get back into control.

Tonight was short lived, thankfully. The meltdown itself only lasted about 30 minutes and calming techniques only took about 15. They have taken as long as 6 hours. Brianna crawled into bed afterwards and took a short nap and felt and looked a million times better when she came down for supper. If it runs as it normally does, tomorrow will be a perfectly happy day where there is little memory of tonight's meltdown. I don't know if it's ignoring what happened or she really doesn't remember much of the meltdown, but at least it's not dragged on for days.

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