Were you ever caught in the middle of an electrical blackout? I have. In fact as I write these lines and I’m using up precious battery life on my lap-top due to an electricity fallout in my neighborhood. I’m trying to cut down on cellphone usage to keep the battery going as long as possible-so that means no Facebook :). And on top of all that my laundry stopped mid-cycle :(. And I can’t even make myself a cup of coffee to chillax. It’s amazing how much our modern lives depend on electricity and how without it they come to a halt.
Actually it reminds me of our children with sensory processing issues. They need to be getting the correct types and amounts of sensory information in order to help regulate their behavior and focus. But, if they’re not getting enough sensory information or “electricity” it can lead to a “blackout”, or in other words a meltdown.
As parents and caregivers we can provide our children with important sensory information to help keep them regulated and focused throughout the day. Yet sometimes, despite our efforts, meltdowns occur.
The following are some tips on how to deal with a meltdown.
1. Look for a quiet corner and apply a deep pressure massage and talk to them in a quiet, soothing voice.
2. Try a deep breathing exercising. Pretend your fingers are candles and have them blow on them to put them out.
3. A ride in the carriage or car. Vibrating sensory input can have a calming effect.
4. A calming snack or drink.
5. Be prepared with an “emergency kit”. For blackouts that could be a flashlight and batteries, but for a meltdown that could mean anything that can calm your child and diffuse their frustration: a squish ball, a weighted blanket, a spritzer with a calming scent, a new toy to distract them, a calming glitter bottle.
If we’re on the topic of flashlights, there are many sensory-motor games you can play with your child with a flash light and a dark room (for example: flashlight tag, shadow puppet show.) For more fun ideas check out a list of flashlight games by Catherine Holecko http://familyfitness.about.com/od/Games-And-How-To-Play-Them/tp/Night-Games-With-Flashlights.htm
Luckily, my electricity just went on so I can go make myself a soothing peppermint tea….But really the best bet is to prevent meltdowns before they occur. Speak to a pediatric OT on building the correct sensory treatment schedule for your child.