4. Meltdown Management and Special Accommodations
Emotional outbursts, aggressive acting out, and meltdowns are one of the most challenging aspects of raising an individual with autism. The chances are good that your family has already developed your own unique set of coping strategies for dealing with these moments. After a disaster, maintain a heightened awareness as to the likelihood of a meltdown, and as much as possible, avoid those stimuli that are problematic even when everything’s going great.
Even if they are non-verbal or have great communication difficulties, keep them as fully informed as possible, on an age appropriate level, about what’s going on with the home restoration process. It is not uncommon for an individual to become obsessed about the circumstances surrounding the disaster; be prepared for extensive discussions or a compulsive interest about the precipitating event. Coordinate with their therapist if this interest appears to be exacerbating, rather than alleviating, their anxiety levels. In some cases, medication therapy may be useful to get through this transition period, but this is a decision to be made by the parent and physician.
If you use a chart or schedule to help with their routine, you may be able to post pictures of the workers, machines and before/after pictures to visually mark what will be happening each day. Social stories may also be used to explain the restoration process and that what was a “bad” event will soon have a “happy” ending.
Prepare your individual with autism for noise and extra stimuli. Machines and equipment may be needed causing sensory overload. We recommend using ear phones, scheduling work when the individual is with a relative, friend or caregiver, and if possible, New Crystal Restoration can do the work during the hours when the individual is at their program.