The boy's reaction was so volatile that not once did the surveying public actually think that there was more to the story than meets the eye here. They all stood glaring at his mother, their expression saying it all. They instantly perceived this to be bad behaviour and looked to her as the cause of it. Perhaps if they hadn't been so quick to judge then this might of occurred to them. It's hard trying to teach children empathy, especially when certain specialists believe that all children with autism lack the ability and even more so when those around you lack it.
It transpired that the series of events that led to the meltdown were thus: while his mother looked around the toy aisle, the older boy had been playing with a loose toy an repeatedly banging it off of the shelf. An elderly male shopper who was standing perusing the magazines at the end of the next aisle grabbed him by the arm and took the toy off of him and put it back on the shelf. This gross violation of the boys personal space, coupled with the bright lights and noise of the supermarket sent him into a meltdown. He knocked toys off of the shelf and the man shouted at him to 'behave'. Upon hearing the man shout a security guard tried to intervene and ask the boy where him mother was. The boy tried to run away on the sight of the authoritarian figure and he grabbed him, making things worse. He felt cornered and started screaming at the top of his lungs. His mother could do nothing except try and make sure he was safe and wait until the screaming subsided and he broke free of it.
I felt sadder still when his mother was genuinely surprised by my reaction to the events. She was mortified and checked to see if the toddler was okay. I said to her it's okay, I understand and pointed to A's head which was poking out of the end of the aisle. He had run away when he heard the screaming and hid under one of the shelves. I could see him from where I was standing and so left him there until everything calmed down. We exchanged knowing looks and went our separate ways, the family went home, presumably exhausted by the days events.
If you think that you have every seen anything like this and would like to know more about the causes and the best way to help deal with a meltdown then read on. Thanks for reading.
One of the most misunderstood autistic behaviors is the meltdown. Frequently, it is the result of some sort of overwhelming stimulation of which cause is often a mystery to parents and teachers. They can come on suddenly and catch everyone by surprise. Autistic children tend to suffer from sensory overload issues that can create meltdowns. Children who have neurological disorders other than autism can suffer from meltdowns. Unlike temper tantrums, these children are expressing a need to withdraw and slowly collect themselves at their own pace.
A child with autism in the middle of a meltdown desperately needs help to gain control.