The post entitled Cultivating Self Regulation left me feeling like I had more to say. Now, those who know me, might be thinking that I always have more to say. True. But, this time, I was unsettled. It was in the midst of one of those embarrassing, "less than my best - self moments," that I figured out what needed to be said. Once again, I must sheepishly admit that in dealing with my hormonal,' preteen daughter I may have "lost my $#@$" one evening. Our day had been a series of small collisions of minds. In my mind, she was being selfish and ultra sensitive and in her mind I was being just plain, MEAN. The storm clouds had been brewing all day and by the time bedtime was within reach her frustration and anger bubbled up from some dark place within and she unleashed the beast of preteen fury!
Kids with autism cannot be expected to self regulate emotions until we teach the skills needed to do so. But don't get too excited. Our work is not over once the "content has been covered." I suppose that it true for all teaching. Deep learning needs far more than coverage of skills. To learn a skill well enough to be able to use it under stress and in different situations, we have to have a whole lot of guided practice, support and then a gradual release of the skill into our own hands without the direct support of another human being. The process seems to be a lot like garden work. It's not enough to dig a hole, throw a seed in and then rest with a cold beverage while the seed 'does its thing.' I am no expert gardener, but, I am quite sure that we need to provide
Last week I promised that we adults cannot take it personally when a child with autism experiences a meltdown. I explained that meltdowns signal that the child needs help and skills need to be taught. Before taking a closer look at what those skills might be I thought it would be frame the meltdown in a way that many of us can relate…hopefully, I am not alone on this one! Warning: Embarrassing self -disclosure ahead. There are times when I just lose it. Any semblance of self- control eludes me and I fold like a cheap suit. The sight of me relapsing to the state of a crying child who just simply cannot cope, is not pretty. For the most part, I hold myself together in front of the public and colleagues, but, my dear friends and family get to witness the ugliest moments. Once in a while, life delivers
Toys strewn across the room. The shrill sound of a screeching child permeates the halls. What just happened? All was well. A child was playing happily and then...without warning, a switch was triggered and BAM! A frenzy ensued. Moments such as these are painful - for the child and the adults involved. No one enjoys losing control. There is no secret pleasure that a child with autism gets from an eruption of emotion. Think about it - Do you secretly enjoy losing your cool in moments of extreme fatigue or upheaval? Probably not. Personally, my least shining moments arise from a lack of being able to keep the lid on my self control due to exhaustion, pain, overwhelm or hunger. I may try to pin the cause on something my children or husband did or did not do. But, the reality is that I choose my responses. We all do. The