Over the weekend, we had to deal with the Monster’s meltdowns.
As any parent of a child with Autism knows, you can’t predict when a meltdown is going to come, or even necessarily what’s going to bring on the state, so you can’t even really prepare for it in advance, and stopping it is… well.
In our case, we still aren’t quite sure what brought on the Monster’s major meltdown last night, save that it happened.
The meltdown started shortly after we tried to get him to have dinner. As is often the case, he’s more communicative about what he doesn’t want – and displaying all the ways he can say no – rather than answering an affirmative to a choice that’s presented to him. In the fullness of time, it became apparent that the Monster had made a choice – he either wanted Pepperidge Farms Goldfish or apple sauce, neither of which were acceptable choices to us. When we informed him that this wasn’t an acceptable choice, he started to shriek and yell, and got sent to time-out after getting to his three-count.
When I went up to retrieve him… he was naked.
This is a new behavior, his stripping down. Because, though, it had been a long day, this was the point where we informed him that he could a) have dinner or b) go to bed. When he continued to shriek, we decided that translated to choice B, dressed him for bed, and then walked away. He was in his room, where he really has few enough things he can hurt himself with.
This was, though, the tone of the night. I checked up on him after a while, to find that he was, of course, again naked in his room and had now dumped all of the bagged, too-small clothing all over his floor. The wife re-dressed him and put him back into his pajamas while I tended to other things (I have the more explosive temper), and we gave it more time for him to cool down.
So, parents of other children with Autism can probably relate when we just basically waited for it to burn out. This meant, of course, that we came upstairs around 10:30 to find that he’d fallen asleep on the futon in his room… naked. (I don’t know what’s with the naked time, for the record. As I’m typing this, he’s quite content to be fully dressed and playing with his toys.) I used my long-neglected babysitter skills to at least get him back into his pull-up and put a blanket over him so he wouldn’t be cold (or pee on the futon overnight) without waking him up, and we left him be.
Today he’s fine… but who knows when the next meltdown will happen…
the clothing thing could be an act of control. he knows how to take off his clothes, so he’s doing it. even though you may put them back on, he knows he can take them off again. guessing he is also realizing somewhere in there that he as less control over what he eats, and this can set off a meltdwn….or anything else diffferent, or maybe even not. we all have bad days, right? just harder when you don’t have all the words to express yourself. you’re doing it all right, dad. you and mom.