A CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE
There was a video posted on Facebook recently showing a dog trained to help his owner during a meltdown.
I found the video difficult to watch for a few reasons.
I couldn’t do anything to help with the pain I was seeing; I felt like I was violating someone’s privacy by watching it (even though it was publicly posted by the owner); and I sadly recognized what was happening because I have seen meltdowns similar to this.
The meltdown in the video is not quite the same as the Navigator’s meltdowns, but I felt the same sense of helplessness I feel when my son melts down.
Because of my own discomfort I was going to turn it off and not watch it again.
Then the Navigator walked in — he could hear the video from his room — and asked to see it so I re-played it.
The second time around I watched it through my son’s eyes and it became wonderful. There was so much to see in this video!
He recognized the behavior — I didn’t need to explain it to him. While he didn’t understand the circumstances that led to the meltdown, he knew what exactly what was happening, knew what was being felt, and knew what drove the behavior.
He got to see visual evidence that there were others who experienced what he experienced when he melted down. The video showed him that he was not alone and that his meltdowns did not make him weird or different.
The video worked to make his own meltdowns less frightening and maybe not feel so bad about them afterwards.
He also got to see how someone had accepted that meltdowns were part of who they were, who had developed tools and strategies, and who had prepared ahead of time to manage a meltdown.
In this case, the owner trained the dog to engage in specific reactions during a meltdown.
It was a strategy that the Navigator could concretely understand, and maybe use to spur his imagination to build on to come up with his own solutions.
The video was a gift and I was grateful for the courage that went into making it public.
I was grateful for the willingness to share something so private so that others can learn.
I was grateful that we both learned.
Originally published at Autism Mom.