A reminder for us last night as to how easily a meltdown can be triggered.

Our boy was playing downstairs, perhaps with that usual early evening elevated level of arousal. One small comment then led to a sudden change in mood and the onset of a meltdown. It began with shouting, shortly followed by throwing things and soon progressed to crying and more shouting. In these situations, our priority has to be safety. As toys came hurtling down the stairs we kept our daughter in the kitchen out the way of the firing line. Trying to interact with our son during his meltdown is futile and tends to make the situation worse. We are learning that we have to let it run its course before we attempt to calm him. We tend to find that distraction techniques can work, particularly humour, but it is vital that these aren’t introduced too soon otherwise it can prolong the meltdown. Timing is crucial.

Meltdowns leave us feeling emotionally drained, but this must be nothing compared to what our son must feel. He is still too young to identify and discuss these feelings but we hope that one day we can talk to him about how meltdowns affect him.

It reminds us that any comment can be seen as a demand by a child with PDA and can lead to a sudden change in emotional state. Awareness is key, along with the ability to recognise the onset of a meltdown. The child is not having a tantrum, it is an uncontrollable expression of emotion.

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