Moms raising kids with Autism spend A LOT of time worrying. Worrying, however, is completely useless. It keeps us stuck and spinning in fear rather than moving forward. In this clip, The Autism Mom Coach, Lisa Candera, shares a strategy that she uses and teachers her clients to stop worrying in its tracks.
We have all been there. Our kid is on our last nerve, we are tired, we are depleted and we lose it. Sometimes the meltdown is internal as we white knuckle through the day and sometimes we let it all out. We yell, we stomp, we cry to the point our kid is looking at us, like “You ok?”
I had this experience over the July 4 holiday. I took my son and his best friend to Boston for an impromptu getaway.
No fireworks until the ride home when I lit it up.
Here is what happened:
Halfway home I realized my laptop had been left behind. It was in the backpack my son accidentally left behind while we were having breakfast.
I yelled, I cried, I melted down.
Luckily, I had just recorded Episode 18 of TAMC : SOS – What to Do During a Meltdown. So here is what I did, and I suggest you do as well:
STOP. First, Stop. You are in a stress response. You are being flooded with adrenaline and cortisone, speeding up your body, your thoughts, your words and your actions.
stop and observing is interrupting a deeply grooved pattern in your brain and in your body. It is bringing consciousness to an unconscious and automatic process.
OBSERVE. Next, observe that you are in a stress response.
This circuit may get tripped so quickly that you do even notice it. This is why it is important to observe when you are in a stress responses and get familiar with how it feels in your body and the thoughts that come up.
By doing this you are interrupting a deeply grooved pattern in your brain and nervous system and bringing consciousness to an unconscious and automatic process.
SELF SOOTH. Do something, anything to create comfort and a felt sense of safety while you manage a challenging situation. For this step, you can use the same techniques you use with your children. Here are some suggestions.
Deep Breathing is not just for yoga and meditation it is for the most stressful of situations.
My go to breathing exercise is called box-breathing, which is used by the Navy Seals. Here is how it works:
Picture a box.
- Inhale to a count of four. Picturing your breath moving up the side of the box
- Then hold for four, picturing the hold moving across the top of the box
- The exhale for 4, picturing the exhale moving down the side of the box,
- Then hold for 4, picturing the hold moving across the bottom of the box.
Repeat for 6 times. This technique works to send the signal to your brain and your body that you are safe, easing the f/f response, returning you to a calmer and more rational state.
Move your body to release the stress that is building up. Even if it is as simple as walking out of the room or shaking your hands and arms to release some of the stress from your body.
Supportive touch is a way of showing yourself comfort and bringing a feeling of safety into your body. You can put a hand on your heart, rub your hands together , manipulate a fidget toy, give yourself a hug, or hug another person.
Self Compassion. We have the ability to step outside of ourselves and offer ourselves support. That might look like saying to yourself, this is hard, but you are doing a great job. This is really difficult, and it is ok to feel the way you do.
Supportive Tone communicates safety. If you are speaking in a high pitch commanding voice, like, “Suck it up buttercup,” you are telling your nervous system you are not safe. But if you speak to yourself using a warm, supportive voice, like you use for a baby or an animal, the tone will communicate to your nervous system that you are safe, you are seen, you are held.
BONUS: You can use this way of talking to yourself to verbalize for your child the experience they may be having in order to co-regulate with them.
I highly recommend you incorporate these self-soothing techniques into your daily self care and practice them ahead of time, so it is easier to grad for them when you or your child is having a meltdown.
And of course, you don’t have to do this alone. If you are interested in taking this work to the net level with 1:1 coaching, schedule a call and chat. You can do so by going on my website and booking an appointment.
In tomorrow’s episode of The Autism Mom Coach podcast, I will be talking about your triggers as a mom raising a child (or children) with autism. I will also be sharing a free resource I created to walk you through the process of identifying your triggers and shifting from reacting to responding to them.