Thursday, 17 January 2013


I can't talk about James and Autism without talking about meltdowns. I know that you all use this term, and of course all kids get to the end of their tether, and tantrum. No, I'm talking about Autistic Meltdown. Anyone that has seen or been involved in one, isn't likely to forget it. For us, amonst other things, it is the hardest part of James Autism. Ben does meltdown, but it is never as traumatic as James'. They happen pretty regularly, he has trashed his room at least 3 times this week. During these meltdowns, he spits, swears, kicks, bites, head-butts, and he destroys things and property. We have bruises and blood to show for these episodes. Dealing with meltdowns and preventing meltdowns occupies most of my time with him. We have learnt a lot, but they are so unpredictable and although nowadays he can tell you after the meltdown what set him off, we can often not prevent them. Important point, DURING a meltdown, he is NOT in control of himself, his actions, his emotions, or his behaviour. They are violent and distressing for everyone, and if I could make anything better about James, this would be it.

I can remember the real humdingers. These really stick in my mind.I'll tell you this one becuase if you ever see one, maybe this story will stick in your mind, and you will know how to help. One day, during school holidays when James was 6, I had taken them into the mall. I only needed bread and milk, it should have been a quick in and out job. Looking back, I kinda knew that he had had enough, I just thought I could push my luck enough to run in and be out in a jiffy.

Firstly, there was a queue. James HATES queues. Then Ben banged his head and screamed. Loudly. Right next to James. Then all hell broke loose. He ran off pushing over a stand full of cold remedy stuff. It fell over and everything fell off it. He ran off down the aisle pulling everything off the shelves; all the time screaming in great distress. Ben was still screaming, I didn't know whether to stay and look after Ben or run after James. I lifted Ben up and went after James.God only knows how I did it, but I grabbed James with my free arm and managed to put James into the shopping trolley. He was spitting, kicking, hitting and screaming so, so loudly.  I actually drew a crowd. People stopped and looked at us whispering behind their hands. Not ONE person offered to help, said a kind word, or anything. This still breaks my heart and can bring tears to my eyes as I recall it. They must have thought I was a terrible parent, completely unable to control my kids, It's a wonder nobody called social flippin' services. Or the police. Actually, that would have helped!

So, we get out of the shop, James still in full swing, Ben crying, and me trying, desperately to hold it together. We get to the car park, and James goes into flight/fight mode and bolts. Into the path of an oncoming car that thankfully was cruising for a park. I pick him up, still in full swing and get him into the car using brute force. I just need to get home. I get into the car and James is laying into Ben. I get James out of the car again and realise that I need to call someone. My phone is dead!! Of all times!! Somehow we get home. How I didn't crash is beyond me. James was fine once he was home. Put him in front of the computer and I literally collapse into tears. I called Stephan to come home from work, and I called his therapists.

Now, that one was a pretty bad one, made worse by the fact that is was in public. If you had been there, what would you have done? Let me tell you. Ask me what you can do to help. I will tell you that my son is in Autistic meltdown. I will ask you to help me with Ben and make sure he is safe. I will ask you to please tell the crowd of onlookers that he is in Autistic meltdown and to please give us some space.

This was hard to write. I actually havn't recalled this in a while, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I have been called into his school because he has trashed the classroom. Literally trashed it, it looked like a bloody tornado had ripped through it. Imagine how you would feel if the school principal had to call you at home to tell you that your child has trashed the classroom and they can't control him. I calmed him down, I got him home. His school were amazing. Still are, but that is another blog.

I know this is hard hitting stuff, and I promise that not all  my blogs wil be so depressing! This is really the dark side of Autism for us, and to understand my family, you have to hear about the meltdowns. I used a very traumatic meltdown to demonstrate this to you, but this is why outings and things that we do all the time, everyday, we do to prevent meltdowns. I hate them with all my heart, I hate them, but I love my boy, and they are part of him, and he is part of our family.          



  1. Crying because I can picture it. Please keep writing Jenny it is hard but people need to know this stuff.
    Fions xxx

  2. Awesome writing, Jenny, terrible subject but you do it brilliantly.
    Second what Fiona says, definitely get it down.