As a parent of a child on the spectrum, one of the hardest skills for me to learn was how to identify and anticipate a meltdown. I had a very strict upbringing and any lack of self control was unacceptable. Meltdowns, regardless of cause were met with swift and stiff penalties. I cringe to think of how I responded to Daniel’s early meltdowns.
Thankfully, implementing my inherited “cure” for meltdowns was so completely unsuccessful that it led to looking for alternatives. Through that search, I discovered not only healthier avenues for working with children in general but also began to identify the threads of symptoms that led to Daniel’s Asperger’s diagnosis.
I have often worried and wondered how Daniel will fare as an adult. Will he learn how to predict and control meltdowns? And what will happen when there are unavoidable, meltdown-triggering circumstances beyond Daniel’s control? I was thrilled this week to read a blog post by one of my favorite Aspie bloggers, Gavin Bollard titled Adult Meltdowns and the Problems of Restraint.
I was glad Gavin mentioned Police Action.
One of the most common occasions in which an adult meltdown is triggered is during police action. Unfortunately, this is probably the worst time for one to occur because violent or noisy outbursts are often met with both violence and legal action.
When the police are called in to deal with stressful situations such as domestic issues, car accidents or minor infractions, the adult aspie is already stressed. As tension builds and they feel a meltdown looming, they will attempt to remove themselves from the situation. Unfortunately, during police action, this ability and this “right” is significantly reduced. It’s quite common for innocent aspies to run from the police and it’s equally common for aspies to resort to violent outbursts in these situations.
It’s probably important to let the police know that you have aspergers syndrome as early as possible and to ask to be able to talk in a less confrontational situation. In some cases, “taking a ride downtown” might be a safer option than trying to discuss it at the scene of the issue.
I think that as we see the ever increasing number of children and even adults being identified as on the spectrum there is an expanding need to provide law enforcement with the proper training to identify the possible signs of a meltdown and steps that can be taken to reduce the pressure on the individual and give them the time and space needed to be able to de-stress and respond appropriately.
How can we as parents prepare our children for this particular aspect of the adult world? How can we as members of our community work towards accommodations for our children as they enter the adult world?