Friday, November 1, 2013

The Meltdown that Melted Away

One of the best therapies is patience. The therapy is for me, not the kids, although they certainly learn by example.

I'm much more apt to wait things out. Yep, even the behavioral issues and meltdowns. The behaviors seem necessary for one reason or another and I disagree with rushing in to change little people who appear to be out of sync into soldiers that will simply march to our beat. 

Recently, my oldest autist perfectly illustrated my point.

Ashi had her heart set on purchasing an LPS (Littlest Pet Shop) toy. Now, she is frugal and doesn't make snap purchasing decisions. She diligently earned and faithfully saved her meager allowance. She even tallied up what percentage of her money she would spend on an LPS. After being ready, in spite of herself, she then had to patiently wait for me to be ready to brave the trip. We all know that we don't just up and hit Wal-Mart, two autists in tow, anytime we please, no, that takes guts planning!

The longed for day finally arrived and Ashi had the trip all mapped out. Since we also know what happens to 'best laid plans' you can rightly guess hers did not go accordingly.

Not fun when you are 1.) at Wal-Mart (yikes), and 2.) in the toy section (double yikes.) But, Wal-Mart was completely dry, empty, devoid, of a single, solitary, plastic piece of wide-eyed LPS figurine. I looked at Ashi hopefully and faked a smiled.

Ashi's eyes brimmed with tears. Her bottom lip puffed in and out like a pinball flapper and she began to hyperventilate. Her body shook. This type of public meltdown had not happened in 2 years.

I hugged Ashi and calmly said that they were just out of LPS and that I was so sorry. Maybe they would have some the following week and we could come back. I gently reminded her how I acted earlier when the things I needed were sold out too and that she should try to imitate me. Her eyelids blinked, quivered, and were just about ready to unleash a flood.

Thankfully our lives are rooted in Christ and the Bible. I lovingly told her that this could be a sign of not being content. I reminded her that God wants us to be thankful and content with the things we already have and that she has a basketful of LPS's at home. Perhaps she was discontented.  

This really struck a nerve for her. More than anything else her walk with Christ and being obedient to God mean everything to her.

Surprisingly, not one of those giant tears slid down her cheek. She breathed a little slower as I held her. And then she began to converse with me (and herself) that all would be okay. That she had lots of LPS's at home. That we could try again next week. She talked herself out of the whole transaction by the time we hit the checkout.

The meltdown just melted away. I told her how proud I was. It's wonderful how she is gaining control over meltdowns. We've had a decade of practice and practice is exactly what is needed. Along with some age and maturity.

The following week, she forgot all about that LPS. It was a month or so later when she said she was ready to try again. She made a successful purchase. She deserved it.

This was an incredible lesson about autism and age and maturity. I do tend to run away from behavioral therapies, especially ABA (that's a different post), because I know how much age and maturity matter for's ALOT, so take heart if you have a very young autist at home.

For us, a whole lot of love, validation, understanding, togetherness, patience, and best of all, a good, rich understanding of God's Word has been the best 'behavioral therapy.'

Annie Eskeldson writes for parents of young autists. She homeschools and has provided the therapy for her two autists at home and is still sane. You can find links to her published children's books on this page!


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