Can Aspies Make Good Parents? - Part 2.5 Meltdowns
I've titled this post 2.5 because I forgot to talk about meltdowns and their effect on children in my last post and because I really wanted to move onto the positive things - which I'll do in post 3.
There are lots of reasons why meltdowns are not healthy in the family environment but the worst are;
Anger Issues and Danger
The worst thing about meltdowns is that the aspie is not 100% in control. They will sometimes lash out at antagonists and throw or kick things. If an aspie has a violent meltdown around their children, there is always a chance, however slight, that someone could get hurt (or at the very least, the kids could learn some choice new phrases).
In my case, since having kids, I've had to adapt significantly. I've had to work harder to identify and avoid meltdown triggers before they happen. Since I'm the world's worst handyman and since the only thing that really causes me issues nowadays is a failure to meet my own perfectionist expectations, this means I don't try to fix things which are beyond my means (almost everything). - and I stay completely away from fixing anything mechanical. There are experts for that kind of thing. If I feel a meltdown coming, I'll try to vacate the room or house.
Luckily for me, my kids generally aren't triggers and no amount of bad behaviour on their part triggers them.
That said, I figure that I've had one too many meltdowns in their vicinity when I see my behaviour and/or language reflected in their own meltdowns over toppled lego towers. It doesn't matter if meltdowns are rare - they still make a massive impact on watching children.
it doesn't help with the building of respect or proper role models, for children to see their parents "lose control" in either meltdown or shutdown (sensory overload) scenarios. Not only do they lose respect but they also detect it as a great way to wind their parents up.
They will take advantage of the situation and see how far you can push mom or dad. I remember doing that to my own parents. Now, of course, I can see how awful my behaviour must have been but when I was little, it was just a way of getting a good fun reaction out of mom or dad.
Meltdowns in Public
One more thing to be wary of if you are an aspie parent who is prone to meltdowns or shutdowns is public perception. You and your children might know what is normal and what is not but others around you don't.
In this day and age, it might only take one public incident with a few onlookers to have child protective services debating your right to be a parent.
As I mentioned before, the best thing to do is to avoid the triggers. Sometimes its easier said than done though, particularly in places like crowded shopping centres. In these cases, you can;
Retire to the car Don't drive in an agitated state. Just sit there until you feel better.
Go to a cafe or food court Find a seat but keep apart from your children (if there's a play area around, consider letting them play while you regain your composure - distanced but still with the kids in sight. In this case, you're probably not removing them because of the risk of harm - or even the issues with them seeing you. You're simply doing it to minimise the distractions in your immediate area and allow you to concentrate on "self-healing".
Out of Sight, Out of Mind If your kids are old enough (and sensible enough) to stay in a play area with you out of sight, you might consider retiring to a restroom or some other such private location until the episode is over.
Of course, the good news is that most aspie parents have their meltdowns and shutdowns under pretty good control. After all, most aspie parents have had 20+ years to get to know their triggers and their calmatives.
Unless an aspie has a recent history of violence, meltdowns are not a cause for concern. Shutdowns too aren't usually dangerous except that they reduce the amount of supervision and thus need to be avoided in dangerous areas (near busy roads with small children etc).