Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tantrums in the Grocery Store

One of the families that I worked with had Tee Shirts made that said, "I HAVE AUTISM" for their son. They were just soooo tired of feeling embarrassed about their child's meltdowns in public places. But they were unwilling to stop taking him with them to the places they wanted to go as a family. With a beautiful, angelic little face, their son looked almost too perfect, like a model child. This beautiful face did not help parents much in a grocery store meltdown because, to the casual observer there was no obvious excuse for a five year old screaming and kicking and throwing grocery items out of the cart.

Another of my families moved to a new city and started attending a new church where on their second visit, a stern woman said "If you just let me take your daughter for the weekend, I could teach her not to do that." The dad, always quick witted, said, "Stay right here while I go home and pack a few of her things!" I think a sense of humor is, perhaps, a families best emotional defense.

I have a web site devoted to play but I know that parenting a child with ASD requires a variety of skills besides play--for example, learning to use visual supports of all kinds seems to be an essential parent skill. Many temper tantrums can be avoided when a good visual support is taught to the child. For example, the Almost Done/Stop cards, a visual support strategy suggested by Dr. Patrick J. Rydell is very useful. The parent shows the child a card in bright yellow that says Almost Done as a warning that an activity will soon end. After a bit, the parent places a card with a red Stop sign on it in front of the child and then ends the activity. Just this week, a dad came back to my clinic and said, "Wow! Those cards are amazing!"

I know that there are literally thousands of sites on the Internet with suggestions for the parents of tantrum prone youngsters but I have some favorites and I thought I would share one here:


1 comment:

The Whiz Kid Forte said...

As a fan of visual cues for autistics (especially social stories, in which I'll be penning in the future, although I'm autistic myself, studying medical billing and coding, and considering being a freelance home writer), I find this blog entry great!