Crazy Bonkers

‘Mummy, I PROMISE not to go crazy bonkers today.’

How my heart melted to hear those words..

The Boy was referring to his meltdowns because he was going on a play-date.

The last play-date was back in November and resulted in me having to carry him out of my friend’s house kicking me and screaming. OH picked us half way home and The Boy proceeded to scream and kick the back of OH’s seat. He fought OH as he carried him across the road and into the house. It wiped him (and us) out for the rest of the day. As meltdowns go – it was one of his worst.

Most autism parents will know what a meltdown is and they will experience challenging behaviour on a daily basis.

What is challenging behaviour?

  • Self-injurious behaviour – any activity where a person inflicts harm or injury on themselves.
  • Physical challenging behaviour – hair pulling, kicking, punching, biting (or in his case, ninja kicks)
  • Pica – eating or mouthing non-edible items like dirt, stones and stuff.
  • SmearingΒ  – people smear can be due to medical or sensory reasons.

The important thing to remember about challenging behaviour is that it has a reason.

Such as:

  • Difficulty in processing information or what I call ‘busy head’.
  • Unstructured time – for instance – at school this would be playtime or free-play in the classroom.
  • Over or under sensitivity to sensory stimuli like noise, light and smells.
  • Changes to routine.
  • Feeling unwell
  • Tiredness
  • Being hungry.

If a child struggles to communicate it leads to frustration, anxiety and anger resulting in a meltdown.

What is a meltdown?

A meltdown (or going crazy bonkers) is a reaction to feeling overwhelmed and any number of reasons (or combination of) can cause it.

Some people make the mistake of thinking it’s a tantrum but there is a massive difference between a child who is having a hissy-fit over not being able to get their own way and one who is out of control due to sensory overload.

A meltdown is the last straw.

What can you do to help your child during a meltdown?

  • Never punish your child for having a meltdown.
  • Speak calmly – never raise your voice or shout.
  • Do not reward your child for calming down after a meltdown as this may lead some children to understand that meltdowns get them what they want.
  • Try and talk to your child about the meltdowns once they are relaxed and receptive.
  • Sometimes it’s necessary to restrain your child but this must only be in situations where they could harm themselves or others. The Boy sometimes likes to be held firmly but other times he can’t stand to be touched. If he is in danger, we have no choice but to restrain him. This is incredibly upsetting as a parent.

Preventing meltdowns

  • Learn to understand when your child is becoming overwhelmed.
  • Distraction can sometimes stop a meltdown it it’s tracks.
  • Establish routines and stick to them. Prepare your child for changes to routine as far in advance as is possible.
  • Pick your battles. Try not to sweat the small stuff as you’ll need your energy for the big ones.
  • A hungry child is a meltdown waiting to happen.
  • Reward positive behaviour – when they get it right in social situations, BIG IT UP!
  • Keeping a behaviour diary can help to identify some of the triggers.
  • Teach your child relaxation techniques.

When The Boy goes ‘crazy bonkers’ he becomes aggressive. Being 4ft 2 and strong he is capable of doing some serious damage. This is the part of his autism which I struggle with and unfortunately it’s his most problematic area.

The Boy isn’t a naturally aggressive child. His default setting is to make people happy so for him to lose control means there is stuff going on in his head that he is unable to process.

How it began

The Boy’s behaviour was noticeably different early on and people put it down to the ‘terrible twos’ but I instinctively knew it was more than that – I just didn’t know what.

One day (aged three) he had an epic meltdown. One minute he was smiling – the next he was yanking out my hair and hitting me in the face. My bewilderment only seemed to spur him on. I understand now that the change in my facial expression must have upset him even more. I needed to put some distance between us so I put him in his room (removing anything that could hurt him) and closed the safety gate. Then I sat on the stairs and listened to his tirade in a state of shock. I had never experienced anything like it. He threw his toys down the stairs then I heard the door slam off it’s hinge. Three years old and he could take a bloody door off?

This doesn’t bode well for his teenage years!

*hysterical laugh* *makes mental note to go open-plan*

At that point I did what instinct told me to and held him. He was shaking with rage but I wrapped my arms and legs around him and rocked him back and forth. Initially he fought me but slowly calmed down. He slept for four hours afterwards which was unusual for him as he only usually manged half an hour but he was exhausted. As he slept I sat and stared at the wall. My mind was in tatters and my heart was heavy. Something definitely wasn’t right and I was scared. At that time I was keeping a journal so it was documented and four years later it’s hard to read.

A few weeks later he started nursery and the manager recognised the autism straight away. With our agreement the child psychologist was brought in to assess him. A year later he was officially diagnosed with ASD and Sensory Processing Disorder.

The rest is history.

To see our child lose it in spectacular fashion is hard to say the least. We’re not talking feet stamping tantrums here – we’re talking total and utter loss of control. It rips my heart out to hear him scream that he hates us but I know at that point he needs our love more than ever.

Our lives revolve around preventing meltdowns but it’s not always possible and the ones which happen in public are a whole different kind of stress because people can be judgmental and unhelpful b**tards.

I have meltdowns but mine are mostly silent. I shut down whereas The Boy explodes. For me it’s like having too may tabs open on the PC and everything locks up. The only way to remedy it is to shut down and re-boot. For him, it’s like the entire thing blows up.

Four years on and the meltdowns still happen but not as often because he is developing coping skills where he can take himself off to his quiet place when he starts to feel overwhelmed. Progress is slow but it’s progress and that can only be a good thing.

He may not be able to promise me he won’t go ‘crazy bonkers’ again but I can promise that we will still love him when he does.

“The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving of ways”. ~ Unknown

Sons, Sand & Sauvignon
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24 thoughts on “Crazy Bonkers

  1. Somewhat heartbreaking to read this blog Tracy, usual you never fail to make make me laugh, even at the worst situation but this one *melts* me for his *promise* hurts hard and deep. Boy understands his meltdowns have stopped what should be a fun play date but it’s beyond his control. Being your and others friend who children suffer on different scales of autism I really feel for you and apart from a bright rainbow 🌈 overhead in the sky, I see deep rainy puddles β˜”οΈ that you have to jump or walk around them. It’s impossible for your family to hold its hand and sing and dance off into the rainbow ahead 🌌. You have such a rocky road ahead and obstacles until you reach them, you have no idea how to pass them.
    Can I ask you a question, maybe it’s one that should be asked to parents with kiddies having a *wobbly* in the supermarket, parks, libraries etc…….what would be the best response from a nice kindly person (if there still is such a thing) offering and wanting to help you. I know when my three had their *moments* when we were out and about! I just wanted to handle it on my own and tried to pretend we were alone albeit in a huge sweaty bundle. I know you try not to put you & boy in a situation that could cause him distress but should this happen, what could me, a stranger offer to do to help, without distressing boy more or under minding your parenting schools. I would like to believe there are decent people out there, not just the *tutters* the 1’s that think you should *wallop* them………..how could someone help you……..????
    A great insight into your daily struggle and your planning days trying to do your best so his *meltdowns* don’t happen. Big love and kisses to you all πŸ’“πŸ’™πŸ’“πŸ’™πŸ’“πŸ’™πŸ’“xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for this wonderful comment lovely πŸ™‚
      “what would be the best response from a nice kindly person (if there still is such a thing) offering and wanting to help you.”
      Just a kind word or two or ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’ would go a long way. Sadly, it has never happened. People just stare. If you watched The A Word, where Joe has a meltdown in the park, it is EXACTLY like that. People just stare or assume he’s being naughty and make comments. It’s so unhelpful. It really makes things much worse. The thing is, autistic or not, we’ve all had times when our kids have lost it in public so why aren’t people more sympathetic? Have they forgotten how it feels? It really saddens me. 😦 Big loves xxxxxxxx

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  2. What an Informative post. I’ve tried to learn some of these things as a School Governor, but it’s interesting to have a Mother put their perception forward. I do think there is a lot more education of the condition we need to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True. On a positive note our school is doing their bit for awareness and I’m pleased about that because awareness educates. I thought about whether I should post this or not as it shows my son in a negative light RE the aggression but I want to tell our story as it is, warts and all, because it will help others. The aggression is only a part of it. I am very positive about autism but also try to keep it real and this is reality for us and many other parents.

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      • What I find most interesting is that he is aware of his meltdowns afterwards. I know this is a common thing amongst children with Autism which proves that they really don’t have control over them, but realise that they’re not a good thing. Most people who witness a meltdown only see the negative but you know the whole story. Keep writing it down to make people see that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • He is aware and he doesn’t like how he feels afterwards. He becomes overly loving as if to make up for hurting us. That’s the hard part for me because I know he has no control over the meltdowns.
        Thank you, I will. πŸ™‚

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  3. I’ve been watching a documentary recently on the beginning of the universe. Bare with me, there is a point to this however tenuous. I’ve watched loads before without ever really understanding it, but with this particular one and the way it’s explained, I think I’m starting to get it.

    And so it is with autism and your blog, because there’s such a huge difference between knowing ‘of’ something and truly understanding it. Whilst I’m far from the latter, with each of your posts I feel like I understand it that little bit more. The way you write cuts through the stigma and labels to present it in such a way that any parent can empathise and begin to understand it on a more personal level, which I think is really important. The challenges and lows, but also the highs too, and all with the usual dose of humour.

    But I do still have one question if you don’t mind me asking? Any idea what a quark is? It’s smaller than an atom, apparently?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an amazing comment, thank you! This is what it is all about for me and if I’ve helped one person understand more about autism then I’m a happy lady. πŸ™‚
      Quark? I think I had that on toast once when I was a vegetarian hehe

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  4. I can really relate to this hun, numerous occasions we have had to leave places because O has been melting down. This happens a lot less frequently these days (phew) but I still know the total exhaustion it causes. Hugs to you x #spectrumsunday

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds so hard for all of you. It sounds positive though that he’s promising not to go crazy bonkers . It’s great to hear he’s developing is coping skills too.
    What a shame that people have to be judgemental when it happens in public. What business is it of theirs?!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a good post. Autism is not all rainbows and unicorns, and there are so many happy smiley posts out in the internet that give people the wrong impression.
    I always try to explain that just because I love my children unconditionally it does not mean that I am blind to their behaviours, be they “naughty” or autistic. Raising awareness of things like meltdowns can only ever be a good thing.
    I’m interested that The Boy is so aware of his meltdowns – I might as well be speaking Japanese to mine if I try to explain what has happened to them. But, like everything else, everyone is different πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • He’s aware of the way he feels afterwards and he doesn’t like that feeling or talking about it but he does know that it’s upset me and that upsets him. He only gets upset when it’s me though..we’ve noticed that he doesn’t react that way with other people, even OH. I really need to work on him with that…Xx

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  7. Fantastic post lovely! So informative but personal too! I have a ‘meltdown post’ sat in my drafts, but I just can’t seem to write in a way that will help other understand. You have done this beautifully! Thank you for joining me on #spectrumsunday I hope you join me again this week xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh bless him, to besoself aware and want to help at such a young age is impressive. Melt downs are bitch, sometimes you can’t manage them and they just needs to come and clear the air as a release. As always your information is clear and precise X

    Liked by 1 person

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