Ryan has always been a sickly child and missed a lot of school when he was being diagnosed with and treated for Glandular fever and severe anaemia. He was given some school work to been done to catch up once he was well enough so as not to fall too far behind in school. I had asked him several times about completing it and things came to a head one Wednesday when at first he tried to lie that he had done the work, but then became quite rude verbally so I asked Dadi Skilts to help me out, but Ryan was this time really rude, so Duncan turned off the PC and it became a full-blown meltdown. He punched the bedroom door enough to make his hand bleed and then took several chunks out of my kitchen table.
Eventually, he cried himself out so I was then able to sit at the kitchen table and managed to talk him down, and I realised just how isolated from and scared of the world that Ryan feels and I am seriously concerned now about his total obsession with his PC/Laptop and Discord as his way of not having to deal with or face the world. He is absolutely petrified of the future, where he is going to fit into the world and how the school is already pressuring them to think about their GCSE options. The mental health worries are the accumulation I think of constantly being ill, missing so much school and his general social problems from autism teamed with typical puberty. This particular Wednesday evening after the meltdown he was much calmer and we even talked through a plan of action for completing the outstanding work.
The following day he came into with me to walk Mojo our Jack Russell terrier. I treated him to ice cream and all was right with the world. We even sat together and did his Maths homework on the laptop. The meltdown does seem to have helped him release some major stresses just like the fizzy pop bottle I discuss in our post Classroom Meltdown and all is calm again for a while now while the stresses build again. It is up to me now to be more vigilant with him and try to have some smaller releases more often rather than one huge mega-disaster.
I have suggested to him and had some tentative agreement from him that I truly think it would be a good idea to find a hobby that does not involve computers or gaming. He has never been remotely sporty so we need to find something just that little bit different, just like Ryan himself.....
We have been abused for taking Ryan out in public. Many times we have given up mid-meal and gone home. Sometimes we have not made it to even order. I remember one particularly disastrous evening in a lovely well-known chain of American style restaurants that we arrived to meet Dadi Skilts from work for a special family meal for I think Owen's birthday and even as we sat down at our table Ryan started having a meltdown. We were trying to look at the menu to choose our orders but Ryan was becoming increasingly distressed to the point we were ready to leave, but Owen then had his turn and to be honest rightly so. He said to us "Why do we always have to leave because of him? I was really looking forward to this treat and it is for me for once, why can't he do this for me?"
Now anyone who knows the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown it simply isn't something you can turn off. By this point Ryan was already at the top of the curve so I made the only decision I could. I took Ryan home while Duncan and Owen got to have the opportunity for a meal out and that is how it has been for most of Owen's life. Split parenting. Tag teaming that Owen gets Dadi or Mami time on a rota.
I can confirm from experience that people are getting better at understanding autism and meltdowns. Many companies now have autism hours and quiet time. Going out in public has got better with Ryan. He has learnt some coping mechanisms and is now better at beginning to verbalise when he is feeling stressed by a situation. I too am tuned into him and can tell when his is building I have learned to recognise his cues. I also pre-warn the restaurant and pre-arrange a set menu that I agree too with Ryan. I prepare Ryan for the visit beforehand.
Another globally known American fast-food restaurant had a refit of their premises in a town local to us and we went to have a nose and see what it was like. Lovely as its attempt was even I found it rather busy/fussy and really quite noisy. Ryan really didn't cope with it. I actually emailed the company once I was home to offer them some feedback and plead that they didn't make the changes standard across all the branches. They, fortunately, haven't made any other changes to date.