Many people think of a meltdown as a child on the floor, shouting, crying, stamping and banging. However, from time to time we deal with a slightly different type of meltdown.

This we like to call the hyper boy meltdown.

What Is The Hyper Boy Meltdown?

Quite simply put, little Mr goes through these stages where he is so hyper and being silly, he is just falling about all over the place.

Laughing, giggling and basically falling to the floor in these giggly uncontrollable, what only can be likened too, meltdowns. Though instead of the shouting, screaming and all that - it's laughing, giggling, wriggling and so on.

This Is No Less Difficult

The thing is, this is no less difficult than a crying, screaming meltdown. In both cases, he's on the floor, completely unmanageable. In both cases, you simply have to wait it out.

The big difference is that in this hyper giggly type of meltdown he's actually happy. A bit too happy.

Triggers wise it's also quite similar. Like a meltdown where the trigger is possibly something in his environment that is overloading him sensory - this hyper giggly meltdown is also often caused by some sort of sensory.

Though, in this case, he finds that sensory funny.

So, How Do We Handle This?

Unlike a meltdown, these hyper giggly sets go on for some time. They can last hours even. Which does make it difficult if we are out. Where we are trying to get somewhere or to the car, we end up taking quite some time as he often goes to the floor and is just lying there giggling.

If we're at home it's also as difficult as he starts doing silly things which can end with him bashing an arm, leg or some other part of his body.

How we manage it is we try to calm him down as much as we can while also making sure he doesn't hurt himself.

However, what we can't do is stop it. It has to play out. We can just put other things around him, calming music and so on. Things to try and bring him down from his giggling. It can take time but eventually, he comes back to calm.

Difficult For Both Meltdowns

It's certainly difficult for both types. One you would certainly think of as a meltdown. They are upset. They have been overloaded sensory wise and they can't handle it.

This other type you may not think of as a meltdown per se. Though in little Mr's case, he is just as unmovable and still doing similar things, though laughing instead of crying or screaming.

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This post is more of a personal update, or changes, rather than talking about a particular subject. I wanted to write it, share it because I know many people will be going through the same issues and I wanted to let them know they are not alone. The thoughts they are having are not unusual and, that, although we don’t know it will be alright, we can share with other.

Sleeping Patterns...

So, I’ve talked before on little Mr’s sleeping patterns, issues and our lack of sleep. When it was summer we had problems with him not getting to sleep because of the long days and him wanted to look out of the window to watch the world go by. We tried a few different things, but ended up with a travel blackout blind. This certainly helped, though he did still go to sleep a little later.

Fast forward through the summer months and we’re now in the latter part of the year, end of October to be more precise. The issue of him going to sleep a little laterhas persisted since the summer, even with the days getting darker sooner. There is one other big change though, which is causing us less sleep.

Early Wake Up Call

Little Mr has started to consistently wake up around 4 am. Now, some days of the week it maybe 5 am, 5.30am, but the majority of the week its been more around the 4 am mark. The problem is that when he wakes up he wants to get one of us up which always happens to be me.

So, I grab a top and wander downstairs with him. 

Resist Feeding

Quite often, when our son wakes up he expects breakfast. This is not going to be happening at 4 am. So, we get some moans and groans and sometimes a cry. What I try to do is take down the bedsheet, put him on the sofa and cover him. I may put on some bedtime nursery rhymes to try and sooth him back to sleep. Sometimes this works. Sometimes, over the period of an hour he will nod back off.

A bigger percentage of the time it doesn’t.This time is often more taken up by him running around, grabbing his toys (he usually only plays with 2-3 things). Running out back to his sensory table. Looking out the patio doors. Jumping on me which I sit in the arm chair. Running up and down the stairs, though I try to stop him doing this so he doesn’t wake up his sister.

As a rule of thumb I use, if he has not gone back to sleep by 5 am, I will give him a smaller bowl of cereal. Smaller because I know when our daughter gets up around 7, she will have her breakfast and he expects another bowl too. So, having the smaller bowl will settle his stomach till that time.

Then, once eaten and drank I let him continue to watch TV, as well as his playing with toys again.

Very Tiring

Feeling That Tiredness

As anyone will tell you in the same situation, it's very tiring. I have difficulties sleeping myself, going to bed at a later time. So, then being woke early means I spend a lot of time yawning. We live in hope that his sleeping pattern will change again.

As I write this, having been woken up again at 4am, yawning away, that and the coffee are keeping me going. I am just hoping my spelling and grammar checker pick up any issues in my writing...

I wanted to share though as I know I’m not the only person dealing with lack of sleep and I wanted to say You’re Not Alone. What I would like to do with this post is reach those people and ask them to share a comment with what techniques they use to try and get their little (or not so little) kiddie back to sleep. Maybe we can create a list of ideas for us all to use.

I really hope this type of sharing life post is something that you all enjoy as I may do more, if interesting, for you to read. At the end of the day, being an ASD parenthas many challenges which we learn to cope with over time. I know early on (I say early on even though its only been just under 4 years since diagnosis) we had no idea of what to expect and what challenges were to come. 

So, I hope sharing these little things will help others.

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So, we've hit summer here in the UK. We have the long days and the muggy hot weather. Little Mr (well, me too to be honest) is finding hard to get to sleep, not that he had the best sleeping pattern. However, when searching for a solution I found it's quite a common thing with 'Autism And Heat Intolerance'.

So, I thought I'd take a better look at the subject, see if I can get some info for myself and, of course, to share with all you too.

Autism And Heat Intolerance

So, in the past I've often read about children on the spectrum that won't, or at least reject, wearing a coat in the colder weather. This might be caused, from what I read, by the body's inability to regulate temperature - or even a sensory issue.

When it comes to warmer weather, it's often the same reason as to why some children have an intolerance to heat.

Children with autism (or even just if they have SPD) frequently have sensory difficulties or sensitivities - and part of those may be to warm temperatures. Some of the info I read put temperatures such as 70F and so on, but I don't believe you can put an exact temperature of above as each child is different.

I further read that those with SPD may struggle for their brains to regulate the temperature of their bodies in the environment.

For example...

For example, those children with such sensory difficulties may feel hot while others feel cold (one reason why some children won't wear a coat in colder months).

I also read that some individuals with Sensory temperature issues have trouble sweating to cool down (or the opposite they might sweat too much).

Does this info help me?

The thing is, this info may help me understand how little Mr is struggling in the head - he does have sensory difficulties along with his Autism. That said, a lot of this info helps me understand myself.

I've always had difficulties with heat. I don't feel the cold so much. I sweat an awful lot as soon as it gets warm - I can often look like I've been swimming - seriously. Nighttimes are when I can't sleep either and, well, lots of pillowcase washing.

The thing is, I know that little Mr is having difficulties potentially with the heat and the long days, but what can I do?

The plan...

So, the first thing I did was to buy some blackout blinds. We bought some travel blackout blinds called Blackout Buddy - Portable Blackout Blinds (that's an Amazon affiliate link if you want to take a look). These have worked great - they are a little big and I stuck some extra velcro to the parts that were oversized four our window.

They have really darkened the room - and have made it a little cooler as we leave them up in the day too.

With those in place our next challenge was to cool the room down and little Mr down. So, we started with having some nice short all in one bedtime suites. These are kind of like a lycra and almost look like a Lyotard. They work great in also stopping him pulling everything off too.

So this is cooling for clothes. The next thing we introduced was a fan. We did try a larger fan, though as he could get to it he kept messing around with it. So, I decided to try a different solution and went with a small, portable, battery operated camping fan (again, it's an Amazon affiliate link if you wanted to take a look).

This small fan has allowed me to put it just out of the way. It's not so powerful, so we will most likely look at something larger - but its a test of if it works or not.

So far, to date

So far, the blackout blinds seem to be working with reducing the light. Having a fan is helping a little (we could do with a larger unit but out of the way for him to grab) - we are really trying to get him down to a comfortable heat. I know a fan on really helps me 🙂

This is really a trial and error though. We understand that heat intolerance could be a reason he is not sleeping so well - not going to sleep easy and then waking up at times like 1am.

I don't really have the definitive answer yet - though I would say that if you're in the same situation of your little one not sleeping well - it could be they have a sensory issue with the heat and you may want to start trying some of these solutions yourself?

If you have any more solutions I, we can try, then please do leave them in a comment below. I would love to learn more and find out new ways to help cool things down for little Mr (and myself).

3 Little Buttons

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This post has been inspired by the fact that, I am sitting here writing whilst also going through the game of the bedtime routine with little Mr - trying hard to get him to rest and go to sleep...

So, you may have seen a post or three on the site talking about our bedtime fun and games with little Mr. He really fights us at bedtime not to go to sleep. You may have read that we're going through the sleep clinic process at the moment - we had a home visit around a week and a half ago to assess that part.

However, I think the worst part of the year, for sleep, is now upon us, the light nights.

Too much light for sleep

I think most, if not every, parents have difficulty when the days are long and light. We all look forward to the summer months, the warmth (in the UK anyhow) to get away from those cold winter blues. However, it brings with it the long light days and nights here in the UK.

In the longest months, the light is with us to a good 10pm. However, the worst is when we try for our kiddies bedtimes, around say 8pm. They see its still light and must think 'It's not bedtime yet!'. Least that is what we were told by our eldest, and we think little Mr must think it too.

It means long, tiring, bedtime sessions - especially when you already have quite long bedtime routines anyhow. In the lighter months, it can take more than 2 hours of our time returning him back to bed. Tiring and also means no adult time too.

So what can you do?

We've tried a number of things, none that have really helped us too much - but there again, he is similarly active all year round, which is why we're going through the sleep clinic.

That said, here are the few things we have tried - some that may be of help to you.

  1. Blackout blind and blackout curtains. We doubled up on the blackout window material in a hope to try and darken the room. It does make it a little darker, however, little Mr goes and looks out of the windows so defeats the purpose. However, you may have more luck. It's all about darkening the room to hide the light outside.
  2. Night time/ Daytime clock. So, we were told about these clocks by one of the support workers we have had. The Gro Clock Sleep Trainer clock (as in the one in this Amazon Affiliate Link) basically shows a moon and stars when its night and Sun when its day. The idea is that they look at the clock, see moon and stars and know its bedtime.
  3. Lullaby music. One suggestion we had was to play lullaby music to try and make little Mr tired. It didn't work for us... but some may find it useful
  4. Play white noise. Another suggestion was to play white noise (you can get apps on the phone). Again, not the most effective, but free to give it a try.
  5. Try and tire him out before bed with a burst of energy play. This did work on occasion, however - most times we found it didn't and just gave him more energy to play.

Those are just 5 of the things we have tried, you may find some of these suggestions useful in your endeavour to get your little one to sleep.

Next steps

So, for use, the next steps are the sleep clinic outcome. This will hopefully help us get him to sleep - and to stay asleep all night (we're having nice early wake-up calls too at this moment).

For you, if you looking for ideas to help your little ones get to sleep with light nights - try the blackout blinds, curtains, see if you can make the room dark. You may want to try the day/night time clock. Ultimately though, you may end up doing as we do and continue to put back into bed until they are asleep.

I wish all of you luck...

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So, the title is a bit of a generalisation - it probably should be SOME of use (as humans) must be more accepting of others, especially those with disabilities.

Trying not to rant

So, I am trying not to rant in this post, though this week I have read a few news stories that really got my back up (so to speak). There are many stories that go unsaid, I can name many situations where we get looks of distain and disgust from other parents when little Mr is having a meltdown, or making too much noise and so on. Personally I just look back at them with a reflective look - if they can't accept others then they don't deserve my time or even respect.

There were a few articles I read this week on the BBC News website that started to boil my blood. These articles really show how, as a society, many of us need to do better. Now, anyone that maybe reading this post would be excluded from these list of people, purely because you are accepting - otherwise why would you be reading articles and posts about disabilities and autism.

There are many others out there that are also excluded from this list of people who need to do better, as there are more and more people out there these days that do understand and do accept. However, these news articles, which I will go through in a minute, show that there are many that are accepting and do need to do better.

Removed from the cinema

So, the first article I read that had me starting to rant was about a woman with Aspergers that was removed from a cinema, and this happened while she was watching her favourite movie as a birthday celebration. Why was she removed? For laughing too loud at the funny parts...

As a society don't we nurture the 'express yourself' part of our personality? I mean, removed for laughing too loud? I won't go into the details of the article, as there was another word removed before the removed - go read it. What really made my blood boil was reading that there were people in the film that verbally abused and then geered and cheered when she was removed, even though she told them she had Aspergers. I won't go into what some said - again go read articles - but I am not even going to give time to what they said.

This really does show that we have a long way to go.

Needing to use the loo

The second News story about a young lady with Crohn's disease who needed to use the toilet but was told she could not by a member of staff.

Now, a friend of mine has Crohn's, and although I don't know the full details of it - I know how bad it can be and how important it is to get to a toilet.

Surely the use of a toilet, something that the staff member is not paying for, is not a big deal. If they are worried, surely a member of staff can go with them?

Again, just another example of people needed to become more understanding.

Asked to leave

The final straw to my week, as it were, came when I read a 3rd article about a young many who was asked to leave a theatre show - what really shines out is that his dad was one of the actors, and that the woman who piped up and asked them to leave reportable said that he was distracting the cast?

This young man, who is non-verbal as reported in this news article, was making animal noises - apparently the show had actors making animal noises. It goes on to say that a woman in front asked him to leave. It says his day (who was one of the actors only found out after the performance).

This is one of those articles that I would love to have read his dad seeing him get up while on stage and then asked this woman why she asked them to leave. Now, I don't condone picking on people, one of the reasons why these stories make my blood boil.  But, I would love to get the insight into the people who have no tolerance and try to show why they are wrong.

I don't expect...

Now, I don't expect these people to gain this tolerance unless their lives are effected with disability or some other reason. It's really disappointing that people still have little tolerance.

Even before little Mr was born, we had some involvement with Autism, disabilities and were always accepting of others. Even though I had less knowledge and experience I made sure I was accepting. That maybe down to my own experience as a kid of being different - my wife says I need to get evaluated to see if I am on the spectrum - though for me its  more about I shouldn't need to, they should accept me, little Mr and everyone else for who they are.

Right. Rang over.. How about your, have you experience of people with no acceptance? If so, why not share them with us.

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This week, during World Autism Awareness Week, I have watched, read and participated in lots of things all about Autism.

I've read articles from adults; adults that were diagnosed later in life - part of the lost generation. I've talked with groups, at my work they have had talks and groups in from autism societies, schools and much more.

As our son was diagnosed 3 years ago now, we've learnt a lot and most of what I have seen I already knew or had read about. Even articles on the missed generation of diagnosis and how many adults are getting diagnosed now.

This brings me to say, at the beginning of this post (spoiler alert), that in this last 3 years, I have asked myself a few times now "Do I have Autism?"

What did surprise me

One thing that did surprise me was when I was watching the Channel 4 documentary called "Are You Autistic?". The program had lots of different stories through it, one of which was around 2 people, 2 adults that suspected they had Autism. These were 2 adults that would fit into this lost generation of diagnosis.

Now that in itself didn't surprise me, it was interesting to listen to what they had to say, the tests they did and so forth. I thought a lot of what they were saying was almost the more classic indicators. BUT what did surprise me (before I go off topic again) was that they said during the program that they had created an online study/test consisting of 4 questionnaires.

They went on to say that this online test had been completed by 750,000 people. Out of the 750,000 that took the test, 87,000 people had scored pointing towards an autism diagnosis, and of those 87,000 pointing towards an autism diagnosis,  47,000 were women.

That really astounded me that, in the cross-section of people they researched  750,000 too test. 87,000 scored pointing toward a diagnosis. 47,000 were women. What also was interesting was how they talked about the gender difference in autism between men and women.

Gender difference in Autism?

There's a gender difference in Autism? Now I had already learned a little on this. If you read back you know that we have been going through diagnosis steps with our daughter - although now they said they need to wait until she moves into secondary school.

The things I have learned is in girls, they have a great ability to mask their autism. They do an experiment in the program where they have 4 women who have been diagnosed. These 4 women do speed dating with 4 guys who do not know they have autism. They use social masking, which is what they have all learnt to do through the years, to see if any of the guys can spot their autism.

Amazingly, it seems that none of the guys picked it up. This goes to show how effective social masking is; which also show how difficult it can be to pick up autism in girls. This really backs up the process of diagnosis we've been through with our daughter and why the paediatrician has said we need to now wait until the bigger change of schools.

Do I have Autism?

Coming back to the name of the program though, the thing I started to talk about before I ventured off.

So, as I was saying I've read and watched many personal stories; taken in lots of info and watched this program. For some time, the things I have learned through our journey, I have wondered if I could have autism too?

This really comes from knowing how different I was as a child and the differences I see today. Even my wife tells me that I am devoid of things such as emotion, as well as other traits that point towards autism. It really comes to light when other people say they spot differences.

For me, I've always prefered my own company a lot of the time, seeking out quiet after spells of interaction. I've never been good in teams, even though my job is working in teams. I tend to try and get separation, sitting next to people that are not on my team so I don't have to talk to them.

I really don't like too much interaction. I have a very close collection of friends, I tend to only have 1 or 2 close to me and don't need anymore.

One more thing

Derealization. So, something I've often felt is a feeling I'm not in my own body and sometimes I do things to check I've done things. Derealization apparently.

Now, I'm not saying I have autism, what I am saying is that - looking at the wider diagnosis these days, I do wonder if I would be one of the lost generation or not. I would suspect that many of us would pick out autistic traits we have, we all probably have some. What it's important to do, I think, is if you feel you have a lot of these traits then maybe you should think of seeking a diagnosis.

It could be that you fall on the spectrum, maybe you don't, but trying to figure out a reason behind some of the things you may worry about doing - may help you.

Myself? I'm unsure if I will or won't. For me, I'm not worried about if I would fall inside the spectrum or not. I am who I am. Knowing, either way, would not change who I am or what I do. For some it may give an indication to why I seem to have little feeling, are more to the point - writing this, for example, is a long post as things such as my emails tend to be 1 line.

Are you autistic? Maybe you question for today?

3 Little Buttons

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Many people may witness little Mr having a meltdown and instantly think 'what a naughty child'. I'm sure many of you reading this can relate to that situation. I'm not sure that many people who have not experienced a meltdown have the understanding of what a meltdown is, and how it's different to when a child is being naughty and having a tantrum. They are two very different and distinct things.

However, people can see a child having a meltdown in a public place, thrashing and stamping and all the others things they may do. They may see this and you know they jump to that wrong conclusion, giving you glares and stares and the rest - I love the comment I have heard so many times of 'O, someones not happy'...

This really comes from people not knowing what a meltdown is and how it isn't something being done when the child is being naughty, but when the child (or adult) has become completely overwhelmed by their current situation and just loosed control of their behaviour.

What is a meltdown?

So, before I start talking about the strategies we use when little Mr is having a meltdown; given the statement I made above, I wanted to spend a moment and examine, talk about what a meltdown is, and what it is not.

There is a fantastic page on The National Autistic Society on Meltdowns which I refer to quite often. In fact, the following quote from their website really does give a great definition of what a meltdown is

A meltdown is ‘an intense response to overwhelming situations’. It happens when someone becomes completely overwhelmed by their current situation and temporarily loses behavioural control. - The National Autistic Society.

I think that is a perfect definition really. It goes on to say that a loss of control can include things such as expression verbally (so screaming, shouting, crying, etc) and also physically (such as kicking, hitting, biting). In our experience, it tends to be both.

It's not the child being naughty or bad, wanting their own way or anything like that. It's just being so overwhelmed with the current situation. For little Mr it's usually sensory, the wrong lighting, smell, colours and so on. It could also be because we've told him and arranged to do something, then something stops us as a place is closed or some other restriction.

Both these situations overwhelm him and it builds up to a point where he just can't handle or contain it anymore and we get a meltdown.

Meltdowns are not the only way a person on the autism spectrum may express feeling overwhelmed. - The National Autistic Society

So, not being naughty, just overwhelmed with something or everything.

What can cause a meltdown?

As I said above, a meltdown is caused, generally, by being overwhelmed. The difficulty, sometimes, is to figure out what is overwhelming them.

Sometimes it's so obvious what it could be. However, sometimes it's certainly not. The thing is, sometimes it's not even about the current environment. Sometimes there could have been a changed in their daily routine and then over time during the day, the change has built up to a point where they are suddenly overwhelmed by it.

Sometimes it is easy to anticipate what may cause a meltdown and other times not. If you can anticipate, then you can use things such as a social story to describe and put into context before the change happens. This is something we are putting into place for little Mr before he flies again, the first time in 3-4 years at that point.

Other times you can't anticipate when or what may cause it. These are probably the most difficult times as you can't work out what may have caused the meltdown.

What can you do?

If you are a third party who see's someone having a meltdown, maybe with a family member, carer, etc; you may wonder what to do. There are a few things that you can do that I know would be really appreciated.

  1. The first thing is such a small thing but makes such a difference. It simple is - Don't judge them. This can make the world of a difference to someone with autism or their carers.
  2. Make some space. What you could help is to help provide a safe space. Somewhere quiet. Simply ask people to move along and not stare, to turn off any loud music or bright lights. Anything you think could reduce the information overload.
  3. Give them some time. It takes time to recover from sensory or information overload - so simple give them that time.
  4. Finally, simple calmly asking them - or their carer or friend, are they are OK. Please bear in mind though that it could take some time for them to respond.

These may sound like simple things that you can do if you see someone having a meltdown. It can, however, make a big difference in helping them.

Strategies to try for calming a child in Mid-Meltdown

I also wanted to talk about some strategies we try, and potentially you could, when trying to calm down a child in Mid-Meltdown.

Keep in mind that we are the child's parent - so this wouldn't potentially work if you were not known by the person having the meltdown.

  1. Calm yourself first. This is, to me, the most important thing to do. When little Mr (or your child) is having a meltdown - well, it's stressful.You have to remember, it's not a tantrum. It is a symptom of autism, they aren't doing this on purpose - there is a reason for the meltdown. Calming yourself first will help you when trying to calm down your child.
  2. Create a safe, private space. This is especially important if in an unfamiliar place. We try to move little Mr somewhere he can feel less overwhelmed with what's around him. If out and about, the best place is in the car. Though it could be in a particular aisle in a shop - we like the clothing isle as generally it's got less sensory input there.
  3. Short and calm direction. So, it's tempting to try and talk your child down from a meltdown, but we certainly found this was not helpful with little Mr. Something I read once hit a nerve with me, it was to try and keep the tone of your voice soft and to make directions short and clear.  This is certainly useful if you're trying to navigate your child to a safer and quieter place. Personally, I just think that a calming voice with short and clear directions seems more calming to hear.
  4. Weighted blanket. If you have it with you, and if your child likes a weighted blanket then you can use that. Personally, we don't use a weighted blanket, we use another stimulus that little Mr likes - he likes to sprinkle (as we call it) items while watching some YouTube nursery rhymes. We find this grabs his attention enough when having a meltdown - although it does take time.
  5. Noise-Cancelling Headphones. For us this doesn't work as little Mr doesn't like items on his head. This may work for some people though as it is removing one of the sensory items that could be causing the meltdown.
  6. Hand wipes or Scented hand lotion. This is something I read but have not tried. They suggest the tactile feel of the hand wipes or the scent a prefered smell may help calm.
  7. Sunglasses. Again, something I have read but not tried, mainly as little Mr would not keep them on his face. It's again about reducing the sensory input; light this time.

Some of these we use ourselves, some we have heard of and not tried and others we know at the moment wouldn't work due to little Mr not wanting to keep them on. This hopefully gives you an idea of what you may try. What is good is to keep with you a portable sensory toolkit just for meltdowns. Something small enough to carry with you, but large enough to contain all you would need.

Hope this has give you some help

I hope that this has given you some insight and help when it comes to meltdowns. They are never nice to witness and even less fun to try and calm down your child. However, I hope that you can take something away from this that will help you when you next experience one.

Also, if you have any other suggestions, then please do add them in a comment below as I know all of us would love to try anything that could help.

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