What causes them and how to handle them?
A meltdown is your body's way of saying I've had enough. The situation you are currently is to much to deal with mentally, yet there is no escape. It may be that they know they are not allowed to leave the dinner table until everyone has finished eating. They have to remain seated until the teacher gives them permission to get up. The grocery shopping trip is not over until Mom/Dad says so, or they can't find the right word to express their wants &/or needs. Whatever the case, their mind is telling them they need out, and NOW but the person in charge says no. Their mind very quickly begins to fall apart leading them right in the middle of a huge meltdown.
As parents, caregivers, friends & family members we want to know what is causing this meltdown so we can help, but are we really helping? A tirade of 20 questions is only going to spin the child further out of control. First, look for context clues first. What was happening before the meltdown? Did some sticky get on their hands? Is someone/thing making noises (loud or even hard to hear for most) that disrupted your child? Did you suddenly change your routine without warning?
Sometimes there are no context clues that we are aware of. To some the tick, tock of a clock is hardly noticeable. To others they can only hear it if they concentrate hard enough. While some sensory children it is LOUD! We've all seen the cartoons of the cooko-clock going in and out, cookoing over and over - louder and louder. The cartoon character ears and eyes start to budge. They is exactly how some sensory kiddo hear it!
Here is something I would like ALL to try to give you one more example of how sound effects a sensory child. Put on a pair of headphones or ear buds and then eat some crunchy - a chip, pretzel, carrot. See how loud that was? Now take the headphone or ear buds off and try it again. Was their a difference? The loudness you heared with them headphones on it how a sensory child that is sensitive to sounds hears almost everything that you & I hear normally like when the headphones where off.
There are MANY more factors that can cause a meltdown than what a listed, and what may cause a meltdown for one child may not cause a meltdown for another child. So, outside of context clues to look for what can we do to help our children calm down from a meltdown? Provide a safe environment for them, a sensory retreat (sensory retreat how-to). Have your child help with the making of the sensory retreat, as it is for them and not you. Let them pick the colors, the textures, what to put inside like fidgets, books, MP3 players, squish box, weighted blanket, ear cans, etc.
Deep Pressure How-To Video
This is one of the MANY helpful How-To video's listed on Angie's site, A Sensory Life. This particular video was made by Laurie with The Lotus Tree Sensory Integration Center.
Deep pressure is another great calmly tool. It provides the body with much needed proprioception. Not only do we do deep pressure before a meltdown can occur (if we an can catch it that is by noticing sensory signals) or during one if possible, but also before bed or anything else that may send Yang into Fight or Flight later (like 10 minutes before a doctors appointment, company coming over, etc.)
What are the biggest issues your child faces that causes a meltdown? What works best for your sensory child during a meltdown?
Yang can not handle large or noisy crowds. She will cover her ears, pull on me & cry to leave. We try at all cost to avoid such situations, but in cases when we can't she listens to her MP3 player. She'll be getting ear cans for Christmas so I will defiantly let everyone know how those work for us. She can not stand anything sticky on her like suckers, syrup or gooey things like slime. In these cases that she wants to play with something like slime or help knead the bread she will wear gloves, but it is usually short lived as they "heat her hands up." We spend a lot of time in Dad's t-shirts and very loose undies. She can not wear anything that is "to closed in" or "squeezing her up." Everything has to be tag less!
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a licensed professional, just a Mom of a sensory kiddo trying to help spread the word & educate others about SPD. I have provided many links through out this post to a licensed OT, as well as links for some very awesome and necessary sensory tools. Always consult with a licensed professional. All photos/videos not belonging to me on this post have been linked back to the owner.