All of this has meant an increase in meltdowns.
What is a meltdown?
A meltdown is NOT a typical toddler tantrum. The best way I can describe it is in comparison to a night terror. It is neurological in origin and he is unable to respond to other people when they happen. He just looks straight through us so any comforting we attempt is really more for our own benefit so we can feel we are doing something, than for his.
They happen more frequently during the night but are increasing during the day as well. I'm lucky in that they usually take place at home for us, but he has had the odd public meltdown as well. They can last anywhere from ten minutes to hours long and at their most violent include banging his head against walls or the floor, smacking himself on the ears and throwing himself against objects and windows. When they reach that level the best I can do is try and create a safe space for him with pillows and make sure he's not going to fly out a window.
They happen more frequently when he's tired or unwell. We've had things on every day for the past few weeks and will continue to do so for a while yet and this has had a clear impact on frequency. The best I can do is keep out routines as strict as possible and allow him downtime and solitude when he needs it.
I can see how this will become even harder as he gets bigger. He's already a tall and heavy boy for his age... I just hope that in becoming more verbal some frustration is alleviated and maybe he can avoid meltdown point sometimes as a result.
So if you see a Mum dealing with a 'horrible' screaming kid out in public this season stop a moment before you judge. Tantrums are an important part of child development in and of themselves. But maybe it's more than a 'spoiled kid' not getting what he wants.
Maybe the flicker of the flouro lights that you don't detect but that appears like strobe lighting to him is hurting his head.
Maybe someone walked too close and inadvertently touched him and he is sensitive to touch.
Maybe the endless Chritmas Carols are at a volume and pitch that drill into his brain and confuse his senses.
Maybe his Mum couldn't get a park where she usually does and this has thrown his own routines so out of whack that he's having trouble processing it.
Maybe he has autism. Maybe he doesn't. Either way a little bit of compassion goes a long way.