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 difference between us and our kids with autism is that we have what we need to regulate our emotions: the ability to articulate our needs (language) and the ability to regulate (to some degree) our fight/flight responses (neurological wiring).
Don’t get me wrong – I am not proposing that we resign ourselves and our kids with ASD to a life of emotional roller coasters. Not a chance! On the contrary, these situations are a clear sign to parents and teachers that skills need to be taught and supported. Notice I did not say punishments need to be handed out? We must shape the behaviours and responses that we want to increase. Being put off or offended by an action is more about ego than it is about educating a child.
What skills need to be taught? What behaviours should be shaped? Stay tuned… and stay optimistic…with teaching, support and loads of love, emotional control will improve.