A Tantrum or meltdown? – Diary of a Baba
Posted on November 17, 2017
I’m super humbled by the overwhelmingly positive responses of my last post. I’m still marinating on a lot of it. I’m glad that it resonated with so many people.
For this post on “Tantrums and Meltdowns?”, I know there are a lot of resources in the autistic community but I don’t know if a lot of people understand the difference.
Sometimes, I wonder if other parents of neuro-typicial children are going through the same thing. I often hear that, “Oh, my child does the same thing.” But I just have a gut feeling it is a little different.
This morning, Collin was in our room and we thought he wanted a diaper change so we brought a couple diapers from his room. He got SO mad and started screaming!! It turns out he wanted something else and NOT a diaper change. He wanted us to put it back into his room, the “rightful” place for the diapers. Once we figured it out and put back the diapers, he was fine.
This is a meltdown. And this is sort of normal for us these days. Then, there are days where he really wants my phone to watch peppa pig, his favorite show these days. He screams and shouts like no tomorrow. This is also unpleasant but this is a tantrum.
So what is the difference? Basically, tantrums are something that can be resolved by meeting a need/demand and a meltdown is more complicated and cannot always be controlled because of sensory overload issues, triggers, and trauma.
But this is not static either. Even though these meltdowns are a symptom of autism, we are working on Collin’s rigidity everyday. With support from our therapists, we are using the meltdowns to strengthen his flexibility. We wait for him to calm down and give him space to verbalize what he wants. If we have time to brave the stormy cries, we don’t grant his request and encourage him to be flexible. This is not always successful but it is constantly a blend of being gentle and firm at the same time.
Ironically (or not surprisingly), Collin has made me a better and more thoughtful baba and movement leader. I see these tendencies everyday with my child and in ourselves.
We have tantrums and meltdowns with each other that impedes us from our purpose. Sometimes we forget our own humanity in all of it. In the end it is a little bit of both, I realize. Just as we approach Collin with deep love and compassion, I want to do the same for all people that I want to build a world with.
Stay tuned for my next post on, “Towards Purpose, Practice and Power.”