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Preventing Meltdowns: Outsmarting the Explosive Behavior of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

August 22, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Meltdown behavior is quite common for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. And, indeed, the most frequently asked question by parents and educators is: “What do I do when my child has meltdowns?”

When the meltdown is occurring, the best reaction is to ensure the safety of all concerned. Know that explosive behavior is not planned but instead is most often caused by subtle and perplexing triggers. When the behavior happens, everyone in its path feels pain, especially the child.

Stages of Explosive Behavior

So, what exactly is explosive behavior? In my book Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals with Autism Spectrum (Endow, 2009), explosive behavior is defined as having four distinct stages, followed by a clearly defined recovery period. In addition, the physiological fight/flight mechanism is triggered immediately prior to the explosion. Read the rest of this entry →

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Throwing a Party for Children on the Autism Spectrum

July 2, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

There are two children lying on the floor, one picking up debris and shovelling it into his mouth, one with a baseball cap over her face. Another girl sits at the table repeating “Anyone for chocolate cake?” in monotones, while a boy sticks two fingers in his ears and makes a moaning noise. Several other kids sit and gawp at the scene. The child at the head of table has a cake covered in lit candles in front of her, sucking in air.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Meltdown at the Airport

March 4, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

I'm going to be very vulnerable in this post for the benefit of all who read it. Let me start by saying, "I HATE FLYING." I realize its a necessary evil as I receive more requests to give presentations out of state. Between the bright lights, echoing overhead announcements and people repeatedly bumping into me at the airport, there's the rapid pressure changes and unpredictable motion of the airplane itself. You'd think that would be enough to send me into a meltdown.

Yesterday I woke up at 4:30am to get to the airport to fly to New York for a presentation that night from 6:30-9:30pm. The landing into New York had significant turbulence and in addition to praying to God I gripped the seat in front of me so tight that I had a hard time letting go and my hands were stiff and sore. Read the rest of this entry →

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