Overstimulation Meltdowns – For those of you new to the Autism game, let me try to explain what overstimulation is and why it happens. Please understand that I’m not speaking from firsthand experience but instead what I have observed raising my three boys who experience this quite often. I welcome anyone’s input that could help further explain.
Basically, a child with autism and sensory processing disorder will see, hear, smell, taste and feel everything going on around them all at the same time.
It’s an onslaught of stimulus that can completely overwhelm the senses. There is absolutely no way that anyone could process all of the sensory input received in these circumstances.
Inevitably, the meltdown will likely follow. The Meltdown Contrary to what many people assume, a meltdown has nothing to do with bad behavior and should not be confused with a tantrum. When a person with autism and sensory processing disorder has a meltdown, it’s their bodies way of purging. The experience is simply too overwhelming and it’s quite literally all they can do. Anyone that thinks they could do a better job of handling overstimulation, should think again.
These people are not weak. In fact, if I may say so myself, they are among the strongest people I know. How many of us could experience something even remotely similar to this and compensate as well and for as long?
I’ll be the first to admit, I couldn’t. How can we help? Let me begin by saying that when I witness my kids go through this, it breaks my heart. They are very clearly in distress and all I want to do is help them through it. When my boys experience overstimulation, the first thing we do is try to remove them from as much of what’s over stimulating them as possible.
Typically that means we pack up and leave wherever it is that we happen to be and head for home. Sometimes we will brush his skin. Doing this provides feedback and is very, very calming. Another thing we doing put steady pressure on his joints. This provides relief for him as well and he really enjoys this. Some people refer to this as joint manipulation. This is very common in therapies like OT (occupational therapy). Any kind of deep pressure, like a Weighted blanket works wonders as well.
Your mileage may vary Your mileage may vary with these things but they are widely considered to be the most common ways to help an over stimulated person to decompress and find their center. These are all things that we do for our kids and find great success in helping them to work through this difficult situation. I would encourage anyone with experience, to add to the list. Share in the comments below, what’s worked for you or your family. This will not only help to educate people but it could also help some to find relief as well.
Marion Pusey Partner in Avid Autism Advocates, L.L.C.Top Contributor
Overstimulation Meltdowns by Rob Gorski
Posted by: www.AvidAutismAdvocates.com