When you have a child who cannot clearly communicate his emotions, outbursts are going to happen. With an Asperger’s Syndrome child, these outbursts can be complete and utter violent meltdowns. Remember, your Aspie is socially and emotionally younger than his chronological age, yet has the strength and the intelligence of someone much older. So when a child with Asperger’s Syndrome throws a temper tantrum, it’s imperative to have a safety plan in place.
First Step on the Safety Plan – Keep your child safe.
You will need to figure out the safest place in the environment for your Aspie to have his meltdown. If you are at home, maybe his room is the best place. If you are in a store, maybe your car would be a safe haven for him.
Make sure his environment doesn’t have anything in it that could hurt him if he decided to become violent. Remove breakables and/or sharp objects and keep them out of his safe zone. Check that the doors are secure and furniture cannot be tipped over on top of him. It’s important that even with the door closed, you are able to hear him and monitor his actions.
Second Step on the Safety Plan – Keep your other children safe.
If you have other children in the household, remove them. Have a list of family members or friends who you can call to come pick up your other children. Make them aware of the safety plan so they understand that it’s an emergency.
Keep an overnight bag packed for each additional child in your home, so you aren’t trying to throw clothes together while dealing with an Asperger’s meltdown.
Steps one and two really must happen simultaneously.
Third Step on the Safety Plan – Keep yourself safe.
Depending on the severity of your child’s Asperger’s meltdown, you may have to call for backup. In the past, I have had the chief of police or a male family member come to assist me during a meltdown. This person needs to have a calming effect on your Aspie, yet be able to protect himself and you if things turn violent.
Again, make sure that person knows what he or she is heading into and what steps are appropriate to take. This may require some in-depth discussion with your backup person.
Fourth Step on the Safety Plan – Keep your Aspie safe from you.
If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of a major meltdown, you know how frustrating and stressful it can be. The last thing you need is to lose your temper and yell back at your child, or worse, strike your child. Yelling back or hitting your child with Asperger’s Syndrome will only escalate the situation, and sometimes into extremely dangerous territory.
Have a list of people in the know whom you can call and vent to. They don’t have to offer any advice. All they need to do is listen and keep you calm. Positive comments, such as reminding you that it’s not your fault, are definitely appreciated.
Building and Executing Your Safety Plan
Everyone needs to be on the same page when dealing with a violent Asperger’s Syndrome meltdown. Hosting a safety plan meeting where everyone can attend and discuss the varying roles they will play is a must. Everyone involved must commit to following through with his task without question in order to keep everyone in your family safe.