Is it common to have meltdowns when limits are set? or transitions?

Pamela - posted on 11/10/2011 ( 30 moms have responded )

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For example,

If you have to tell your Autistic child, "it's time to come off the computer, ti's time to come inside, it's time to come to the dinner table." Basically any time that I have to tell my child to discontinue an activity he enjoys he meltsdown. Especially high interest games like his Nintendo DS or computer time et cetera.

But sometimes just something simple as "it's time to go to swim lesson" is enough for him to flip out.

Other times it can be me putting on his socks in a way that doesn't "feel right" he says it feels too "crinkly". Other times I ask him to brush his teeth and he doesn't want to and thats just plain ordinary neuro-typical kid not wanting to brush teeth opposition stuff.

Are his meltdowns "usual"? He has so darned many and they are so over the top involving screaming crying, things flying at me, punching me, kicking, punching me, the works.

or is my kiddo the only one who can meltdown over this? I know every child on the spectrum is different, but I wnat to know if he was misdiagnosed or if this is something other folks deal with. LIke is this something that can be a part of Autism or is this something that is completely out of the realm?

ANY FEEDBACK is greatly appreciated. please.

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Bec - posted on 01/10/2012

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I reckon this is fairly standard for all kids just ours express it ten fold. eg a ave kid grounded will say whinge a bit and sulk in their room or simmillar ours let the world know how much we suck at that given time LOL!! it is standard for a reaction of some kind we just get a huge one LOL!!!

Sharlene - posted on 01/09/2012

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That's right Bec .Every child that has autism has a melt down and some take it well and others need more help in handling their feeling and needs that also where you need routine in place as well, That's where a behavior therapies or a OT can show you ways to deal with melts downs

Bec - posted on 01/09/2012

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it is normal and with set routine pridictability, social stories and visual aids things can reduce and also maturity everyone told me this when my son was young I thought yeah sure this is rediculious but it does my son 12 and heaps better still have odd occassion but no way as bad or difficult as the young toddler and early primary years speech therapy healps develope communication skills and expressing ones self also and helps with school work this reduces anger as the verbal improves

Janet - posted on 11/16/2011

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"Another mom said to me, "you need to use short easy commands". I hadn't done that b/c I felt like I was talking down to him as if he were a dog b/c he's so bright. Now, looking back I did him such a diservice."

Firstly, I'm with ya there completely. I never want to feel like I'm talking down to my children. But at the same time, we have to remember that what is a regular room to us, can be like a flashing loud discotheque for our kids! If you say "Hey, can you go to the door, find your boots, put them on, grab your coat its time to go!" They may have heard one or two things.. which is why they grab their coat and wait at the door for you, and then have a meltdown because you insist they put on their shoes first! They may have actually only heard you say "Hey! ... Get your coat its time to go!" because of all the other distractions going on for them.

Its not necessarily that they don't understand as much as... well... frankly they got a lot goin' on!

Also, I forgot to mention about writing down the behaviors if you choose to do that. Generally, you don't want to give any attention to a meltdown until you figure out the cause of it - because YOUR reaction MAY be the reason they're having the issue to begin with. I know from experience that sometimes your reaction can be 'controllable entertainment'. - If they freak out, and you make that crazy face that is honestly hilarious to onlookers - that's pretty good entertainment! That they controlled the start of! And seriously, in a world where they don't control hardly anything, they want that control. So, when its a behavoir I'm tracking, I walk away (usually to the fridge where I keep my behavior charts) and write what's going on. (Generally why my handwriting on the forms looks like Satan wrote it, I'm angry, silent and trying to keep my cool!)

Our kids are smarter than alot of people give them credit for, but there's an expression too "Too smart for their own good!" which certainly can apply!!

Good luck!!

Amy - posted on 11/13/2011

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I have an Owen as well..... and my Owen also does not transition well, and never has. He's 9 now, and he understands that he does not always have a choice when we throw up the "change card", which is a throwback to his visual schedule from preschool. He does great as long as we give him warnings, which were mentioned in some earlier posts..... if we have to run an errand after he gets picked up from school, I will warn him before we drop him off. If we need to leave the house to go shopping, I give him either a specifc time that we are going to need to have shoes on, or I will count down starting with 15 minutes. If he is super-involved in an activity, I will let him help me find a good stopping point so that he doesn't feel like he had to stop right in the middle of something big. I am not big on being super-scheduled at home either, but we did use one when he was younger to minimize meltdowns, and then gradually phased it out as he got older and better able to cope. I also did not want to have to make my younger son adhere to a schedule, however, the countdown works for the younger one as well. Every once in a while, we do have to change activities without warning, and those things just happen..... that's when we get to practice our parental patience! :)

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Esperanza - posted on 02/18/2012

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hi pamela,

i admit scheduals are important im a very routine and schedualed person i like to have things planned out so we no what to expect and sometimes with his doctor visits i t will kinda mess things up a bit. chance is also in aba has a psychiatrist, pschologist, pediatrician, develpmental pediatrician, 2 neurologist has had an eeg and mri and has been in specch and pysical therapy and goes to school 3 half days a week and hes 4 years old. but and heres the kicker having a routine in my opinion does not guarantee he wont have a melt down. my son is alot like urs it sounds from the meltdown s and stuff he hurts me spits on me bites me punches me head butts me pinches me grabs my boobs all the time he kicks me pulls my hair grabs sharp objects to poke me with and has seriousely hurt other children,. im on crutches and been in a boot like 8 months now i had to send him with his dad for the past week or so because i couldnt chase him around and it kills me to think i had to give my son away because i couldnt handle him i wanted nothing more than to keep him with me even being like this.sigh...hes 4 and i cant get him potty trained for nothing. he will do really good for a week and then suddenly wont go nomore he will get all violent with little awareness for his own safety. even when i inform him of changes if the tv goes off or if we are gettin outta the bath he will still throw a major tantrum sometimes. i feel this way somethings work for some people that dont work for others its very easy to give advice if you arent in the situation but noone has to live your life or be in scary situation. what i do with chance is i talk to him calmly sometimes i will let him be for a minute but where i can watch him or sometimes i will hold him to me and cuddle him and ill ask him over again why hes upset and sometimes he tells me and sometimes he dont. i do notice redirection with an incentive works like something he likes but then that can also back fire cause he thinks hey if i throw a fit ill get my special thing. what works really well is if you have a room where theres not much stuff in for him to hurt himself or break and you call that like the time out area when he starts haveing a meltdown you take him in that room until he can calm down. or if he starts being a danger to u or someone else or himself if you have a fenced in yard put him out there till he can calm down i really am sorry for what your going through and i reall y wish i could help more

Bec - posted on 01/10/2012

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yeah this happens with my son seems typical trait. you have to learn what I call the dance and get what you as the parent want with minimal fuss and keep things positive,not always possiable but we try!!! lol!! like others have said work out what helps your child eg social story, visuals, cue cards, a verbal story and or rewards and these have to be adjusted and applied to the indervidual eg my son really beniffited from social stories and visuals for a while when young but. I at times found the visual cues to be taken to litterally at times eg a pic of a shirt in draw to tidy room. he would tidy his room and do so by putting one shirt in a draw, how can I argue he did as he was asked and cue card showed?? also with age he decided that social stories were for babies and young kids he was to old for them so I got creative and organised photos in a story like way and we looked through them together he accepted that better than being set out in a book form or the like. I find change of teacher hard, I find he is fixated on shopping at Kmart,I find he would have a zoo at home if i did not prepare and really work on restrictions. I mean I have to really keep tabs on this one he is crafty.I find meltdowns occur with either transitions or intersection when he is on a mission, fixated must do or have things. I have found with him it is getting better with me being consistant and firm as well as age and maturity but he still trys can be quite dominante and very very bossy.he did it today wanted one more pet fish and i mean our fish tank will end up full like a tin of tuna by the time the fish we already have grow bigger yet he wanted one more fish!!! oh and make sure everyone knows your limitations with the fixation other wise nan who takes him out for the day might have a surprise for you on return... A FISH!!! LOL and at that stage lets face it you have to pritty much take it in unless the street gets to know your life as they scream out WHY CANT I HAVE A FISH blah blah... yeah I know all about this one LOL!!!

Pamela - posted on 11/30/2011

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Connie, thank you for your reply, my son used to have meltdowns on the way home from his therapist. This did not bode well with me since the therapist (in my mind) was supposed to be "helping" him. I actually got punched. ugh.

Stephanie - posted on 11/29/2011

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my son is now 19 and he still has many many issues, and trouble with every day life. but luckily, when he was about 12 yrs old i had the opportunity to put in the Young Marines program at a local nearby Marine facility - let me tell you, every Weds. evening when i came to pick him up, never failed that he would be out side doing push ups or running laps, because he couldnt or wouldnt do as the Sgt told him. After about 6 months of attending every Weds night, he finally was being much more respectful, he knew and understood many of his set limits, such as when he was told to get ready for bed, he needed to do just that.
His psychologist, and psychotrist both told me they couldnt see him finishing the marine program, but thanks to a good family friend of ours, my son DID graduate from the program with 2 of my other sons!!!! Just to see the look on his face as he walked down the aisle to accept his graduation certificate - he was so proud beaming from ear to ear!!!!
our family therapist told me that he was very very pleasantly surprised that my son was able - and that i made him stick it out. They never abused him, but they didnt let him talk back or stop when they told him to do it.. he did.......and if they had to sit and continue to tell him over and over to do it, sometimes for 20 or 30 mins - they did.
Also one thing that helped me with my sons meltdowns trememndously, is giving him an option - such as ok, you have 15 min. to finish your game, and get ready for bed. and i would give him a 5 min breakdown, such as u have 10 min now. If he did not quit when he was told after having a certain time of counting down - which allowed him to have "some" control. Then i would NOT allow him to play the game IF he did not stop the game, and get ready for bed. A video game or certain toys...tv etc ARE ALL privileges. And if he can not act like a young man, then he should not get those privileges. also, my doctor and myself, decided that my son (and other 3 sons as well) all benefited and minded the rules and me much better if they had something to look forward too. for many years, when they were much younger (around 10 til around 13 or so ..give or take a few yrs.) i would go to town daily, and only if they behaved - then they could go with me to the store and pick out some candy!!!! I know this sounds or may sound crazy to some of you, but for me and my kids - it worked!!!
let me tell you the first time one of them didnt get candy and their brothers did!!! OMGGG! u would have thought the world was ending.... =)
good luck and hope some of this may help or give you some of your own ideas!!
GOD BLESS!!!

Teresa - posted on 11/21/2011

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YES YES and YES. He needs that structure all the time. When he gets older he could prob handle a little more. Trust my he wont hate you for it. Make sure he knows what he needs to do and when give him like warnings. "5 min til we go to swimming" Also if he is ok with alarms "my son wasnt at first" but have him set an alarm and say when this goes off its time to "whatever" Stick to it.

Connie - posted on 11/21/2011

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moms; my 23 yr old has "older" age transition problems - stopping doing something at home, etc is NOT the problem; it's after an activity away from home and the transition hassles are in the car while driving back from work, gymnastics, a play date (she also has moderate mental retardation so she won't ever drive to and from) - we are the taxi drivers for her. Our therapist thinks our daughter needs to be instructed on what to do almost every minute of every day; we're trying to have her learn to find things to do around the house by modeling it, but the drives home can be awful. Maybe we just aren't patient considering we didn't know about ASD until 1 yr ago

Connie - posted on 11/20/2011

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my daughter is 23 yrs old; late ASD diagnosis; hubby and I go with her to weekly therapy that specializes in ASD clients. We're watching our daugher's reactions with new filters (ASD filters that is) and yes, every transition shows autism symptoms - entering the kitchen and sitting down at the table to eat (food issues); even with the known schedule of fun things, work, etc., she continues to revert to "old scripts". Our therapist is working with us to learn how to handle, prepare, react to meltdowns and/or just transitions in general. Still have a long ways to go to unlearn old habits of ours and hers.

Judi - posted on 11/16/2011

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Floortime is awesome. It's all about making connections and queuing into their world so that they can make it in ours. Check it out. Meltdowns are around but they can get better. Schedules and warning are so important to kids but especially ones on the spectrum. Stick with it and breath. I find hiding under the bed helps on really bad meltdown days.

Pamela - posted on 11/16/2011

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Janet, HAHHAHA Satan wrote it, you crack me up, that's probabaly what my writing looks like when its written fast and furious too. The fridge seems like a good spot. You have so many good points. There might be a lot of secondary gain by me staring at his meltdowns or attention paid to them. perhaps by charting them or writing while he is in a tornado that would bode well for both of us. Also, I think you make a great point that kids on the spectrum may hear as Charlie brown hears his teacher "mhwwah mhwah mhwah" after the first few words, theres too many, perhaps the short commands really are better. Thank you again :)

Pamela - posted on 11/16/2011

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Wow Janet, this is HUGE!!!!! This is a step by step outline that even his therapist have not SYTHESIZED for me. DAY-UM. you should write a Spectrum for Dummies manual for parents, and by that I am not referring to stupidity but rather to the series: Windows for Dummies, or Job Interviews For Dummies, it's a series of books that break down daunting tasks and make them easier. Had to put that clarifier in there in case someone is unfamiliar and thought I was trying to label ANY child as such. NO NO NO. I am the one that feels DUMB. Not knowing how to help my child is beyond frustrating and makes me feel stupid, inept, and ill-equipped. Add to the fact that even said "professionals" often times do not have the lingo or the know-how to teach, the necessary and much needed skills in an easy to swallow, step by step way. For pete's sake I NEED SCRIPTING!!! I am serious as a heart attack, maybe I have a touch of ASD. I lack the language with which to use with my son, the jargon, the phraseology, semantics to convey that I need him to come off the pc without punching me and I lose him after the first few paragraphs. Another mom said to me, "you need to use short easy commands". I hadn't done that b/c I felt like I was talking down to him as if he were a dog b/c he's so bright. Now, looking back I did him such a diservice. But our children, they just don't come wiht manuals do they? Thank you for your reply it comes in such a timely way.
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pamela - posted on 11/16/2011

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Tina, what is floorline therapy? guessing by the fact that I have to ask, probably not I gather.

Janet - posted on 11/16/2011

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Everyone has great ideas! In fact, I'd recommend a mix - it seems like a lot of work at first, but trust me, if you stick with it its very likely that it will help and later you can look back on this time with a sigh and "Remember when it was that bad?? I'm so glad its not like that anymore." Here is a combination of efforts that work at my house.

A visual schedule generally helps autistic children see what's coming. And that's a big deal when you don't understand a lot of what you see other people around you automatically getting. Its a key to helping them be less frustrated. This can include a daily schedule, or even a visual timer of some sort (like a circular cooking timer you can find at your Dollar stores or whatnot. The digital ones with no circle on them generally don't do much. I've even downloaded a timer for my phone so I have one wherever I go.).

Let your child know, BEFORE agreeing to the activity how long they'll have - and stick with it! Its easy to say "oh fine, have 5 more minutes" because they're screaming their heads off... but next time, they'll remember that they screamed and got more time - so why not use the same tactic this time??

Remind them (Verbal or visual prompting the professionals call it) when its getting close to the time they need to be done playing. Make sure they're paying attention to you when you do this. My kids were taught during their early intervention that when I tap my finger to my chin, it means "I'm saying something to you, pay attention and acknowledge me". It only takes a second usually to get them to say "Okay mom, 10 minutes" or something to that effect, to let YOU know that THEY heard you. Because when our kids are doing something they like, lets face it, they can be completely zoned out to you, and you screaming at them about something they're not interested in, is not gonna do a lick of good!

Praise him when he's good! The first time he gets off his game when you ask him to, dance a jig, give him tickles, make him laugh and smile any way you know how. At first he's not going to do what you want him to because it gives him a warm fuzzy feeling to obey you. There has to be something in it. So, if he gets off his game and you have a 3 minute mini celebration... He's thinking "hey... wow... that was pretty nice... I like that better than meltdown... "

Whenever he has a meltdown, try to write it down. This is tracking the behavior so you can figure out what's causing it. If you can figure it out - it will save you potential headaches down the line. Took me FOREVER to figure out that there's something in Blues music that drive my kids insane. They'd be climbing the walls and having meltdowns left and right - I saw no pattern, until I recorded what happened just before, and during, and after the meltdowns or behavoirs. Now, I know that my kids just can't handle some of the sounds in music, but other types calm them - that milk hurts my youngest's tummy and that my oldest gets into the syrups in the fridge because she gets a bath out of it. "UGH! Why are they crying, freaking, getting into things?!" is a common exasperated cry, but by charting it and using a little analaysis, you can avoid things in the future.

Okay.. I see that I've gone on and on.. but it really is a combination of things that tend to work for people. And sadly, it WILL probably get worse before it gets better. But after that HUGE and TRYING episode, you'll notice that it will get better.

Chin up, you can do this!

Tina - posted on 11/14/2011

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it depends how old is your child?with my son each year he grew older they seem to be less and not so violent,is he in any floortime therapy?that really seem to help my child...

Pamela - posted on 11/14/2011

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thanks Amy. I know I am the one who needs to turn this ship around here. I need to give him more transition time, and a better "warning system" that impending change will occur, and find a good stopping point aka model some good flexibility for him........ I think using less verbage is better for him. SPeaking to him with less words seems to work. Like "brush teeth" and "get dressed" then you can play your game. because he has ADHD, its easy for him to get distracted along the way. so if I give him some reminders if I see he has brushed his teeth but then finding him getting sidetracked, but not in a scolding way.......if that makes sense.

Pamela - posted on 11/13/2011

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Katy,
I am never sure of the function of Owen's behavior. His counselor's do what's called a behavioral chain of analysis to determine the causality or etiology behind it. Of course that always takes place "after" the explosion or meltdown. Sometimes I can glean from what happened some insight and it may seem obvious (I took away his game and he melted down) other times I have no idea and there seems no obvious precipitant to his meltdown/tantrum through there obviously is, but it is internal to Owen and a good deal of his emotions are not externalized. that is part of his deficits. I will take a look at your ideas here and the website you listed as I am at my wits end and the said counselors are not all that helpful, not trying to knock them but they truly are not helping him through standard "play therapy" modalities. thank you so much for all the information you put forth!

Katy - posted on 11/12/2011

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Hi Pamela, As not to overwhelm your little one, I would recommend incorporating the schedule during one part of the day (i.e. 2-3 activities on the schedule at a time) and slowly building on this as your child learns to follow the schedule. You can increase your child's motivation to use the schedule in several ways:



1. Allow you child to assist in building the schedule

2. Reinforcing use of schedule



In regard to the images, many children like to use photos of themselves doing the various activities as they can easily identify what the picture represents. You can also find picture icon libraries online and print them from your home computer.



It does not have to be a "timed" schedule, per say. The picture remains on the schedule until the task is complete. Then the child moves on to the next. You can build in "breaks" as well as activities that are reinforcing (i.e. 15 minutes on computer).



Rehearsal is important when learning a schedule. For example, if you and your child build a schedule containing three activities, before you begin, make sure you talk about each activity in order. This will help prepare your child for transition in activity/task. "First brush teeth, then comb hair". "First wash hands, then eat ice cream".



You may also like the site: www.do2learn.com



It sounds as if you've already identified many "antecedents" (triggers) to your child's behavior, this is very helpful when approaching challenging behavior. If you can identify what happened just before the behavior occurs, you can begin to better understand the function of the behavior.



If you are interested in being coached on how to positively manage your child's behavior, you may want to look into Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. An ABA therapist can train you in many of these positive interventions to manage challenging behavior and facilitate functional skill development. If you are interested, I can give you more information on ABA.



Best!

Pamela - posted on 11/12/2011

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Susan, my son's fave activity is also video games, and that is also what he HATES to shut off. that is the number one meltdown reason. coming off of them. he prefers them to anything else just about, which kinda scares me. he hates brushing his teeth, having to take a shower, or trying new things be it a new food or a new activity or meeting new people. maybe I could use coming off the game nicely as incentive for more time later too, thanks for that idea.

Pamela - posted on 11/12/2011

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Katy, I have GOT to buy that timer. He needs to SEE time passing. I feel like a total screw up. Metldowns left and right, maybe there are caused by me, heck I have been assuming he was "neurotypical" for a long time, just got this diagnosis only 6 months ago. Up to then I thought he was just being hard headed and as for all the weird things like him not being able to get his toenails cut, wear certain socks, I just didnt know what to make of it all. How much of the home routine needs to be mapped out? like when he gets home from school for example do I schedule the time between then and bed? block it out? or what? I am just as lost as he is on all this? what have you found useful?

Susan - posted on 11/12/2011

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My son is 7 years old and the hardest thing for him to deal with is change. He to will have long meltdowns when he swiches activitys. I have learned it helps him alot to do a count down 15 min left 10 min left 5 min left ect. Also we keep him in a daily rutine but try little changes everyday. This helps hin to learn how to transition without meltdowns. With his favorate activity wich is his vidoe games right now he can earn extra time.Example turning off the game with no fight for dinner time will earn him 30 min after dinner to play.Hope this helps some and good luck! It will get better!

Katy - posted on 11/12/2011

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Pamela, you may want to consider involving your child in developing a schedule, typically visual aids are helpful in that it allows for the child to follow the schedule independent of verbal prompts (which can be for many of us, anxiety provoking/frustrating). You can easily create a picture schedule at home. This is an easy way to structure routine tasks.

It is very important that schedules be kept simple. The most basic form would be a "first then" schedule, showing only 2 activities. It is important to rehearse with the child "first brush teeth, then brush hair".

Guided choices is also helpful. For example, "do you want to get dressed first or brush your teeth first". This method also allows the child some control, which may in turn decrease anxiety.

Timers and other tools can be particularly helpful. Kids really like timers such as this: http://www.timetimer.com . You can set the timer for any activity and the child can easily self-monitor the time spent and time left on each activity.

Verbal prompts can be helpful when leading up to a transition (i.e. 10 minutes left, 5 minutes left, two minutes left). This can prevent an abrupt demand "time to end now", as it prepares the child for transitions with consistency.

Lastly, It is important that you provide positive reinforcement when shaping behavior :).

I hope this is helpful to you.

Pamela - posted on 11/11/2011

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thank you. maybe I need a stronger routine at home. he does so well at school. I thought that by having too much structure at home I was going to be a bad mom, maybe too militant some kind of boot camp sargent and he'd hate me. but maybe that's what he needs? Jesus, maybe I've been screwing him up more by not having things more structured with a blow by blow flow chart. God help me :(

Sharlene - posted on 11/11/2011

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Do you have a routine in place for your child .my son has spertrum and I think now and again he might have a major meltdown but darls that's all part of have Autstim ,I think he knows the routine better then myself to be honest.Alot of them need secontract and routine I cant count how many times james has had Bloody meltdown LOL,.cheers darls

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