From Anxiety to Meltdown: How Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Deal with Anxiety, Experience Meltdowns, Manifest Tantrums, and How You Can Intervene Effectively

Overview

Anxiety is the root cause of many of the difficulties experienced by people on the autism spectrum. Drawing on her extensive personal experience and using real-life examples to explain how autistic people think, the author highlights how meltdowns and tantrums differ from each other, and discusses the sources they can stem from. She identifies how to spot triggers and prevent outbursts from happening in the first place. Practical and simple solutions for avoiding anxiety are offered throughout, accompanied by ...

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From Anxiety to Meltdown: How Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Deal with Anxiety, Experience Meltdowns, Manifest Tantrums, and How You Can Intervene Effectively

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Overview

Anxiety is the root cause of many of the difficulties experienced by people on the autism spectrum. Drawing on her extensive personal experience and using real-life examples to explain how autistic people think, the author highlights how meltdowns and tantrums differ from each other, and discusses the sources they can stem from. She identifies how to spot triggers and prevent outbursts from happening in the first place. Practical and simple solutions for avoiding anxiety are offered throughout, accompanied by calming techniques and suggestions for ways to deal with tantrums when they occur.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781849058438
  • Publisher: Kingsley, Jessica Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/15/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 433,338
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 11

1 Seeing the World Through Our Eyes 15

Is autism part of an evolutionary process? 17

The importance of scripts 19

Heightened senses impact our ability to navigate social settings 20

Growing up undiagnosed with autism 24

"Scripting": the golden rule in autism 26

Going off script 27

Hating spontaneity 32

Dealing with going off script 33

2 Anxiety: Friend or Foe? 37

Neurological makeup similar to certain animal species 37

Difficulty making eye contact 38

Reason 1: sensory integration 39

Reason 2: peripheral versus central vision 41

Exercises to improve central vision 45

Reason 3: a non aggressive gesture 45

Light touch interpreted as aversive 46

The fight or flight response 47

A prehistoric carry over 48

Triggering a fight or flight response 49

1 The onset of the "freeze" response 49

2 The release of adrenaline 51

3 Loss of cognitive awareness 52

4 The danger of injury 53

The "freeze" response 54

My personal experience with the freeze response 56

3 How Anxiety Impacts Our Cognitive Abilities 59

The stress of navigating through the simple task of shopping 60

Societal inconsistencies 66

A world of absolutes: a major reason for anxiety 68

What are we "feeling"? 70

Problem solving from the autistic viewpoint 74

The fear of unpredictability 74

Stimming 76

Stimming defuses rising anxiety levels 76

Stimming done solely out of habit 79

The child who keeps badgering you with questions they already know the answer to 80

Should we use medication to help reduce anxiety levels in individuals with autism? 81

4 Rituals and Routines: A Natural Defense for Anxiety 85

The need for predictability 87

Although every individual is different, routines are universal 89

What is the function of a ritual? 89

How a ritual differs from a routine 89

Common sense, OCD, or a ritual? 90

Unexplainable rituals 93

Minor changes that could create anxiety leading to new rituals at home or school 93

Interrupting routines 94

Non functional routines established unintentionally 95

Avoiding the use of immediate tangible rewards 96

Modify a routine gradually 97

Replacing a non functional routine 98

Handling interruptions in routines 100

Unforeseen interruptions in a routine 100

The influence of stress on routines and rituals 102

A personal example of how a non functional routine was calming 103

Never interfere with a ritual or routine 105

5 What is a Meltdown? 107

Not all individuals will experience meltdowns 107

Meltdowns are not tantrums 108

What is a meltdown? 109

How I developed my interest in creating meltdown interventions 109

What causes a meltdown? 112

Going off script: a leading cause of meltdowns and catastrophic reactions 113

Not receiving comprehendible answers: another major source of meltdowns 114

Two types of meltdown/catastrophic reaction: cognitive and sensory meltdowns 115

Cognitive meltdowns 115

Cognitive overload and meltdowns 116

Too much choice causing a meltdown 117

Bolting or running away during a meltdown 119

Witnessing self injurious behavior during a meltdown 120

Can self injurious behaviors occur in the Asperger's population? 121

The physiological response of the body during a meltdown 121

Common warning signs and behaviors indicating increasing anxiety, leading to a meltdown 123

The "freeze" response heralds an impending meltdown 124

Immediately after the highly excitable part of the meltdown phase 126

Summary: phases of a cognitive meltdown 127

Sensory meltdowns 128

How a sensory meltdown differs from a cognitive one 130

Accepting sensory limits 130

Summary: sensory meltdowns 131

Cognitive and sensory meltdowns 132

Shut down responses: the other extreme of a meltdown phase 132

The aftermath of a meltdown: intense feelings of remorse, embarrassment, and shame 133

6 How Does a Tantrum Differ from a Meltdown? 135

The golden rule in meltdowns and tantrums 136

Tantrums are a choice 140

Distinguishing a meltdown from a tantrum: a checklist 140

Controlling established tantrums 142

How to handle a tantrum 143

A word of caution 145

Aggressive or self injurious behavior during a tantrum 146

Intervening successfully 148

How to test for a tantrum in the verbal individual 149

How to test for a tantrum in the non verbal individual 150

Utilizing special interests and/or objects to test for a tantrum 151

Look for the tell tale signs of anxiety 152

Non social tendencies 152

Instant gratification as a potential source of tantrums 154

Using a token system as an effective alternative 155

Today's society as a saboteur of behavioral interventions 156

Societal distractions as a sign of the times 157

A ray of hope 159

7 Meltdown Triggers 161

Novel situations: the number one meltdown trigger 161

Airports: my personal nemesis 162

Back up scripts or contingency plans: the main strategy for novel situations 164

"In the unlikely event of…" 165

A case in point 165

Multiple back up or contingency plans are beneficial 166

Communicating back up plans to the severely autistic or non verbal population 167

Back up plans for the verbal and high functioning population 168

Sensory issues compounding the stress of a novel situation: a classic example 169

Strategies to prevent a meltdown in this complicated novel situation 171

You can't prepare for all novel situations 172

Transitions: another major contributor to meltdown 172

Transitioning from class to class 173

Transitioning to a different subject 174

Substitute teachers as a transition issue 176

Other transitions that can cause a meltdown 177

Moving from one home to another 178

Transitions revolving around parental status 179

Guidelines for parental status transitions 180

First time visits to the dentist or doctor 181

Other triggers for meltdowns 182

Trying to participate in a group conversation 183

Time limits as a source for catastrophic reactions 184

Being rushed or hurried to do anything 185

Meltdown and catastrophic reaction triggers 186

Hormonal influences and meltdowns 188

8 Communication Triggers that Cause Meltdowns 191

Miscommunications are just as prevalent in the non verbal population 191

Autistic communication differences 192

1 A large factual knowledge base 192

Dealing with fears by acquiring facts 193

A teen obsessed with the macabre: a communication misinterpretation 195

Factual exchanges are mentally stimulating 198

2 Autistic individuals are more comfortable with "question and answer" communication 199

Communication as a main source of cognitive overload 200

Requests that imply ability and not a command 201

Literal phrases involving a timeframe meant to be interpreted as non specific 202

The overuse of binding words that aren't taken seriously 203

A broken promise 206

Vague time references that may elicit an extreme anxiety response 208

Vague undefined open ended questions 209

Adding a yes or no, as well as adding a time reference, clarifies your question 211

Why does the word "No" cause a meltdown? 212

9 Meltdown Interventions 215

Three main goals of intervention for meltdowns/catastrophic reactions 216

1 Safety of all involved is paramount 216

Self injurious behaviors and safety 218

2 Reducing the stimulation level 220

How you should communicate to a person in a meltdown 221

3 Addressing the problem at hand 222

When there are no alternative solutions 223

Autistic emergency tool kits for reducing the anxiety associated with impending meltdowns 224

Early recognition of signs of anxiety is the best strategy for preventing meltdowns 227

Physical movement as a calming tool for the verbal and non verbal individual 228

Avoiding a meltdown in the first place 229

Sensory triggers at crowded gatherings that are best avoided by not going there 229

A final suggestion: learning to accept meltdowns as just part of who you are 231

Getting the wind knocked out of my sail 232

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 15, 2011

    helpful, but...

    My grandson is on the high end of the Asperger Syndrome. I found this book somewhat helpful, but there is no doubt, it would be far more helpful with someone involved with more severe Autism symptoms. Hebeltje Dykstra

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