Slice of Life – 9/16/14 – Root Cause

Have I shared with you before about “catastrophic thinking”? It’s when things seem bad, but in an Asperger’s mind, they seem to be the worst ever.

Remembering that things are going very well in middle school, I returned home from work last night to find my husband in my son’s room, my son having a literal meltdown. What was going on? He was completely behind in his work and would be getting detentions and everything was horrible, is what I was told. Wow!

Papers were strewn across the bedroom floor. The pillow was tear-soaked. First line of defense: are you hungry (low blood sugar can often cause these meltdowns) or tired (obvious cause)? A little of both.

After a quick snack, we lay down to relax. What’s really going on? His response: There’s so much homework to do that I’m not having fun anymore. Are you sad that you cannot play with your brother as much during the week? A little. Are you afraid you are not going to get to play video games. BINGO!

One of my colleagues offered this advice to a new teacher yesterday. Its wisdom resounded in this conversation with my son. Notice the triggers that “set the child” off. Is it a change in routine, an unexpected occurrence, hunger, tiredness? Work to avoid or provide lots of scaffolding when unavoidable. For my son, it was the thought of the loss of his “freedom” – his childhood. He is not actually losing his free time. But the thought of more homework (and there is more, naturally, with each successive grade), caused him to believe that no more fun times were going to be happening in his life.

This solution was rather easy: carve out some specific “online time” so he could have a “break.” Just a thought to share for when you witness a “meltdown” – find out what is at the heart of the matter for that child?

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life – 9/16/14 – Root Cause

  1. Sometimes as parents and teachers we spend a lot of time resolving problems without taking into account what may have caused the problem. It’s important to find the root cause.

  2. Last year I had an autistic student, my first. Her meltdowns were frightening. I took a training class that was helpful, but when she was mad, I couldn’t get to the “tricks” in the face of trying to gain control. It was hard, but I did learn each day. The patience required amazed and overwhelmed me. I can only relate with this small experience. I admire the tools you are using with your son. He will grow and be successful because of you.

    1. Thank you for such an engaging reply. My son is “high” on the spectrum. We are so fortunate and have not had struggles that other families have had. As a parent and fellow educator, I have deep respect for teachers who invest any time in working with children on the spectrum. It means more than you could know to that hold and family. Thank you!

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