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How to Hold a Child When They Are Having an Asperger's Fit

by Amber Keefer, studioD

Meltdowns are a common behavior associated with Asperger syndrome. It’s an emotional response that signals a loss of control. Although you might see hugging your child as a way to comfort her when she’s upset, MyAspergersChild.com points out that the brains of these kids are wired differently. Consequently, some Aperger’s kids have problems processing sensory information and may refuse to let other people touch or hug them. Yet every child with Asperger’s is different and therefore may not react in the same way to being held.

Consider your child’s sensory issues. Some kids with Asperger’s are tactily sensitive and don’t like to be touched. As a result, they tend to avoid physical contact in certain situations. A meltdown is a sign that an Asperger’s child is already highly frustrated and may be on sensory overload.

Tell your child you are going to hold him. Giving him a hug when he’s having a meltdown could make the situation worse unless he indicates that it’s okay for you to touch him. If he resists being held, don’t force it.

Reassure your child and let her know you love her. If she’s out of control and crying, she may actually want you to hold her.

Speak to your child in a calm voice and open your arms wide. Instead of you approaching him, see if he'll come to you, advises MyAspergersChild.com. If he does, holding him might help calm him.

Show patience. If your child doesn’t want to be touched, respect her feelings. Don’t take it personally -- just give her space until she calms down. Being left alone gives some kids with Asperger’s the opportunity to get their emotions under control. After your child is calm, she might not mind you holding her to soothe her.

Let your child take the lead. Some children on the autism spectrum need to feel physical pressure as a way to help calm anxiety. Allow your child to guide you on how tightly he wants to be held or hugged. MyAspergersChild.com also suggests having your child sit in a beanbag chair. If he is so upset he doesn’t want to be touched, sitting in the chair simulates a sense of being hugged, which may help calm him.

Sit near your child if she doesn’t want to be held. Just having you close by could be enough to calm her. Some Asperger’s kids like being held but only when they want you to hold them.

Hold your child to restrain him if he is so out of control he could hurt himself or others. Physically intervene only if a meltdown reaches the point of creating an unsafe situation. Tell your child you will let him go as soon as he calms down.

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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