When it comes to Autism and all things “spectrum” related, I have found that no two individuals are the same. There are similarities, but that’s as far as it goes. However, I thought that by sharing our experience of the things that seem to trigger Matthews meltdowns, that maybe it would be helpful to parents/ carers who are going through the same thing at the minute and don’t have an explanation for why there little one is acting out.
There is a big difference between a tantrum and a “sensory” related meltdown, and this is quite possibly one of the biggest misconceptions about children on the Autism Spectrum. Many people believe that their reactions are merely due to behavioural issues, and that discipline or lack thereof is the issue. However, parents or carers of “sensory” children will know the difference between a simple tantrum because there little one can’t get there own way, and a full on “sensory” meltdown that makes their child both mentally and physically uncomfortable.
Before I go any further, I want to reiterate that these particular triggers may not apply to you or your child. Each person reacts differently to different sights, sounds and smells. These are just the ones that we have experience with.
- Strong smells
It isn’t one smell in particular but we have found that especially at feeding time, if Matthew can smell the food he is being served, he will point blank refuse to eat it. Things such as fresh fish (despite him enjoying fish fingers) and eggs. Just having these foods within eye view upsets him, because of the strong smell they give off.
- Loud noises
There are certain noises that bother him more than others, but generally speaking this is a big trigger. Particularly the hoover or the hairdryer. He also gets very distressed in a loud social environment, unless he has a distraction such as a toy or is being held tightly by my husband or I. He is a lover of music, but gets very overwhelmed if it is extremely loud. He usually indicates that this is bothering him by holding his hands over his ears.
- Certain music
As well as being frightened by loud music, Matthew also has some particular songs/ pieces of music that upset him incredibly. These may seem like silly little things to someone else, but they aggravate him beyond measure. So much so that these are the worst kind of meltdowns he currently exhibits.
- Tastes/ Textures
I put these together because they seem to go hand-in-hand with Matthew. If I give him something to hold that has a strange or abnormal texture to him, it’s as if he can taste it in his mouth. He grimaces and gags at the feel of it. This is the exact same reaction he has when he tastes food that he doesn’t enjoy. It’s a very physical reaction, where his body is almost not entirely in control of its reaction.
I hope that this has been useful for anybody who is going through the diagnosis process at the minute. There is a lot of information thrown at you when you first suspect your child may have “sensory” issues and it can get a bit overwhelming. Please feel free to have a look at my previous posts regarding our journey so far…