Hi, I'm Craig Kendall,
the author of The Asperger's Syndrome Survival Guide.
In today's newsletter we are going to answer the question ...
How can I stop meltdowns
when routines change?
NEED FOR ROUTINE
People with Asperger's syndrome need to have a routine
and need to know what is going to happen next at all times. Routine
is stabilizing and essential to people with Aspergers; they get very
anxious when they are not prepared for what will happen.
Having a routine and predictability helps those with Aspergers feel
safe. Whether you're meeting someone with Aspergers for the first
time or trying to figure out how to best help a loved one, creating
a routine, using explicit, literal, verbal language to communicate,
being aware of sensory issues and trying to minimize them as much as
possible, and having lots of love and understanding will go a long
way to helping people with Asperger's navigate the world.
What are some things a parent can do to help?
The most important thing is to be consistent. Everyone (but especially kids) with
Asperger's thrive on routine.
Everything needs to be done at the same time, in the
same way, every day, as much as possible, to give a sense
of safety and security. When there will be a change in
routine, tell your loved one as far in advance and explain what will happen.
When you talk to your loved one with Aspergers, you should
use a calm and even tone of voice, and use explicit language that
says exactly what you mean.
Do not make requests too complicated or ask an Aspie to
do things with too many steps at once. Try to keep your language as
literal as possible.
Try to be very verbal. If your child does something
right, praise them for it. But this advice is definitely not just for children.
I received this email from an adult which describes how he feels when things get
complicated and he begins to meltdown...
An Aspie is like a juggler who can keep one ball in the air at a
time, but struggles with more than one. Right now I am battling with four or five balls (problems)
that just do not seem to get resolved and at times, like today, and my mind is on overload and
cannot cope - it just goes blank, I forget things, lose things, which are uncharacteristic. Can you
recommend anything to help me, please?
If your loved one has a meltdown, the most important thing
to remember when dealing with these situations is to try to figure
out what caused them. Your loved one is not doing this to intentionally
annoy you; he is doing it because he has reached his limit of
tolerance in whatever he is dealing with. If you feel his meltdown
was caused by a change in routine, reassure him of the routine for
the rest of the day and that the routine will not change the next
day, if that is the case.
SUCCESSFUL TACTICS USED BY OTHER PARENTS
In the research I conducted for my book, The
Asperger's Syndrome Survival Guide, I interviewed hundreds
of parents. The following are specific actions that parents of
Aspergers kids told me helps minimize or reduce the likelihood of
try not to change any thing around him. I try to be with him as much
on a strict schedule and explaining if something will be different,
aside from the normal routine."
added visual cues where possible we try not to stray from routine,
even when something exciting is happening we created 'retreats'
where our son can go to calm down."
"I try to
keep some kind of structure. Any change in his routine, will result
in a meltdown - from his morning routine all the way to his
provide warnings (30 minute, 10 minute, 5, etc.) when we know a
transition is approaching. We have ‘do overs’ as an opportunity
to ‘go back in time’ and make things the way she likes them. We
don't raise our voice with her because that causes her to become
highly agitated. Instead, we try to be silly and cajole her into
tried to ‘slow down’ and work around his temperament. We no
longer ‘rush’ to do things and try to allow plenty of time
because we found that by telling him we were ‘running late’ it
only caused him to get more upset. We have tried to cut
down/eliminate those items that we know send him on ‘sensory
overload.’ We have altered his diet and we are still working at
how to lessen/shorten the melt downs as well as what other things
changes would be the wrong thing to do in Saira's case. We have had
the same routine since she was 2 and any change would pretty much
destroy her perfect world."
to follow the same routine, or sequence of activities, we have to be
careful about transitions, make sure that preferred foods are
available, he needs very close following to see that homework and
other non preferred activities are completed well so use picture
schedules at times"
Click to hear how Craig's book helped
My son is 12 and a
half. Before the book, he would have anger and aggression issues. He
would go into his own world and block everyone completely out. He would
not listen. He would stare completely right through you as if you were
not even there. He would freak out and basically have like a temper
tantrum. It was a severe temper tantrum like you were dealing with a two
year old--like a terrible twos.
You can't go to restaurants. You can't go to the grocery store. You
can't go to the movies. You are afraid to go to family functions.
You're actually afraid to go anywhere. You get constant phone calls
from the school because he is labeled as a "problem child." That has
been my son all of his life.
After the book he no longer has any meltdowns. I immediately started
implementing things and the way that I handled things and I started
focusing on all of the positives in his life. The Asperger's Syndrome
Survival Guide helped establish the understanding of what my son
goes through--how he sees the world--because I had absolutely no clue.
around family he is fine because now the family understands because I
have explained the situation with them.
The greatest thing that I got out of The Asperger's Syndrome Survival
Guide would be his [Craig Kendall's] detailed solutions on how to cope
with Asperger's, the way he puts it into laymen's terms and
understanding how my son sees the world by giving examples. And I think
it helped that he has a child with Asperger's as well. And the
information on support groups.
are just a few of the answers you will need to successfully survive
and thrive with Aspergers. If you are looking for additional answers
immediately, go to the following site: www.AspergersSociety.org
Note: my newly released book on Aspergers for Teens and Young Adults discusses bullying, anxiety, depression and what to do about it. Click here for more information:
Note: my newly released book on Aspergers for Adults discusses
how to make and keep friends, building relationships, employment, depression and the meaning of
life, therapy options and much more. Click here for more information:
Some of the many questions we will be covering in future issues
How do I help my child understand subtle speech patterns like
What steps should I take to see if I or my loved one has
Why does it often take years to diagnose Asperger’s
How can I get a diagnosis of Aspergers for an Adult?
How can I be certain that that my loved one has Aspergers and
not some other condition?
What are the most effective ways to treat Aspergers?