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  1. GP
    May 23, 2016 @ 1:42 pm

    My child recently told me that she always thought everybody else experienced the world like her. Over time, she has become more able to tell me what may overstimulate her or what may trigger a meltdown before the meltdown actually happens. However, challenges with expressive language and not having fully developed abstract and critical thinking skills yet, a lot of children may find it very difficult to understand and explain their own behavior. For me, as a neurotypical mom, a game changer was when I started reading blogs written by adults and teens on the spectrum. Through these blogs, I gained a greater understanding of how my child may experience the world. Of course, every person is different, but reading about the inner experiences, sensory overstimulation, meltdowns, childhood memories, and other life experiences of adults on the spectrum, I became able to ask more specific questions. I started asking if the lights, sounds, scents, textures, or certain social demands bothered her at school or at certain events. After a meltdown, I would also ask specific questions such as whether or not she was confused by something or if she got her feelings hurt. I found out that she is afraid of what the future may bring. She worries a lot about how autism may affect her future. I learned that she was barely acknowledging the many wonderful qualities she has. Like many others on the spectrum, my child experiences the world much more intensely. There does not seem to be an effective filter. Many stimuli come in equally strong, which makes it confusing and hard to focus. These type of experiences cause a lot of anxiety for her every day, and when her anxiety reaches a certain level, her brain seems to go into “fight or flight” mode. Until her brain matures more and she develops sufficient coping skills, we’ll try to minimize predictable stressors so that unpredictable/surprise stressors become less likely to not trigger a meltdown. When my child constantly seemed on edge, we figured out that she needed more downtime. For my child it meant not going grocery shopping with me as often and not going to busy, noisy events as much. It is not that she never does these things, but things like school can be demanding enough, and we had to find ways to let her enjoy her weekends and minimize stressors during that time. She still gets exposed to plenty of social activities and enrichment activities, but just not as much. I also tell her about certain blogs that describe strengths or certain challenges, like specific sensory issues, which seems to help her realize that autism is not a disease and that she is not alone. It also helps her learn more about her own strengths and to feel a sense of pride in who she is.

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