Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What is a Stressful Situation?

I know that stressful situations lead many children to meltdowns and/or shutdown. But what causes a child this kind of stress? The answer to that question can have a hundred different answers. If you ask my husband what causes him stress, his response is a lot different than mine. It took us many years of marriage to figure what things we needed to do a little differently to limit stress in eac other's life. My husband is very spontaneous and I can be but not on the spot. I need a little "heads up" that he is thinking about a change in plans or direction. I don't need days of forewarning but I do appreciate more than 5 minutes.

If you take my feeling about quick changes in schedule and multiply X 1000, that is what causes anxiety and meltdown/shutdown in many children with learning differences. I may not understand why a child is stressed so much be certain situations. I need to accept that it's true and work with it. There is not a guidebook that says your child will be extra stressed by the following things. That will become your job! It's a hard one but you are the most equipped person to do it. Once you figure out your child's unique stressors then the next step is to figure out what to do about them. There is no perfect solution but here are a few ways to tackle this problem.

  • Avoid activating the stressors. What is another way to approach the situation?
  • Teach alternative solutions when the stressors come up.
  • Involve other professionals to help problem solve and come up with solutions.
  • Research/network with others about ways to handle these stressors.
  • React and model calmness to your child during reactions caused by stress.
  • Have an "escape plan" if the situation is too difficult for everyone.
  • Teach strategies using preparation, visual supports and language that teach generalization.
  • Recognize the child's maturity level when planning interventions.

A stressful situation today may not be one three years with careful intervention. This takes lots of time and work but in the long run, the results will be great.