Caitlin went to the zoo yesterday with my ex-wife and her grandmother for her half-brother's first birthday party. She said she had fun, took a picture of a lion and a tiger, and she seemed happy...but she came home tired and overwhelmed, and ended up having a meltdown before bedtime. The meltdown ended in tears, but at least she didn't throw things around or break anything. It was just constant repetition, total frustration, a shutdown, then screaming and crying.
Kids have tantrums, and they're usually over something they want or attention they're not getting. With a meltdown, it's about sensory overload, and kids with autism have to do something to get their minds in order, something to calm the mental storm to get back into a more peaceful, pleasant mode.
I learned a trick today, and the next time the repetition starts that marks the meltdown's beginning, I am going to try it, because it works with the OCD repetition. I learned it from one of the aids at Caitlin's school. They carry a whiteboard around, and every time Caitlin starts repeating something, they write it down. Instead of Caitlin repeating it, she will read it from that point on.
I have a whiteboard somewhere around here, but I didn't have it handy when she came home from school, so I grabbed a notebook. I wrote down things she repeated. It calmed her very quickly and made her smile.
I'm going to work with this trick and see if I can make it progress to her writing it down herself, or perhaps typing it into her laptop. Perhaps she can type it to me in a chat client, and I can type back to her...and make that interaction progress into communication.