Afterwards he apologizes but during them ... well, I usually end up crying. Then it takes me hours and hours to get out of my crisis response mode while it takes him only a few moments to apologize and get back to his wonderful sweet self, leaving me in the dust.
Not sure a puppy is the way to go. Not now when he can get pretty violent during episodes.
Found this online:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TANTRUM AND A MELTDOWN
The meltdown is a common autistic characteristic feared and dreaded by both caregivers and autistics. Not to be confused with a temper tantrum. There are differences that are easy to spot if you are looking.I do think that we'll work hard to focus on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Look for/discern what his triggers are. When it begins, decide if the meltdown is worth not giving in on whatever he's requesting or refusing. Work on positive reinforcement.
1. During a melt down, a child with autism does not look or care, if those around him are reacting to his behavior. A child having a tantrum will look to see if their behavior is getting a reaction.
2. A child in the middle of a meltdown does not consider their own or others safety. A child in the middle of a tantrum takes care to be sure they won't get hurt.
3. A child in the meltdown mode has no interest or involvement in the social situation. A child who throws a tantrum will use the social situation to their benefit.
4. Meltdowns seem to move along under their own power and wind down slowly. With a tantrum, it will end suddenly when the situation is resolved.
5. A melt down gives the feeling that no one is in control. A tantrum will give you the feeling that the child is in control, although they are pretending they are not.
6. The meltdown usually begins when a specific want has not been permitted and after a point, nothing can satisfy the child until the meltdown has run its course. A tantrum is thrown to achieve a specific goal and once the goal is met, things return to normal.
THE MELTDOWN CHARACTERISTICS
There is nothing amusing about the meltdown. It is every known form of manipulation, anger, and loss of control that a person can muster up to display. It is loud, risky at times, frustrating, and exhausting. It is scary. The best definition is a total loss of behavioral control.
The problem is that the loss of control overtakes the child. They need their caregiver to recognize this behavior and help return them to control as they are unable to do so. A child with autism in the middle of the meltdown desperately needs help to regain composure.
As a caregiver of a child on the autism spectrum, you need to help the child learn to recognize when the meltdown is imminent. In this way, you can both work to avoid a meltdown. Remember the scary part mentioned above, think about an adult going out of control in a similar manner. The child needs to learn to recognize and learn to defuse this type of unacceptable behavior before they reach adulthood and are able to do more damage.
Carefully observe your child if they are experiencing meltdowns. Does the meltdown have a brief period before onset where your child spaces out? Do they get totally uninvolved with their environment prior to a meltdown? What are the signals?
WHAT TO DO
When your child launches into the meltdown, remove them from any areas that could harm them or they could harm. Glass shelving and doors may become the target of an angry foot. Try to avoid having objects at hand to throw at people. Try to separate them from other people. Avoiding injury is the top priority during the meltdown.
Don’t try to reason with them. They aren’t listening and too much talking just adds to their sensory overload. There will be plenty of time to discuss it after they calm down. Remember, they aren’t like a puppy and their behavior doesn’t have to be dealt with immediately.
Persistence, practice, patience, and consistency are the ingredients to succeed in teaching your autistic child acceptable social behaviors.
So ... thoughts? You know, for when he's past the point of no return ... until we can figure out what his triggers are?
Maybe an MP3 player with certain calming sounds or songs on it? A "worry stone" and accompanying "chant"?