The Difference Between Tantrums and Sensory Meltdowns as originally seen on Understood by Amanda Morin.
Both tantrums and sensory meltdowns can be behavioral aspects of several different brain centered issues, like the ones mentioned in the article: ADHD, sensory processing issues or autism like mentioned in the video or I’ve seen them both occur in brain injured individuals. Knowing what your looking at and how to “de-escalate” the individual are important skills to have if you are working with these individuals on a personal or professional level. The key to both is remaining calm; adding to the problem by yelling or waving your arms isn’t going to help. For tantrums, Ms. Morin suggests stating something like, “When you stop yelling, tell me calmly you are ready for (whatever the person is seeking attention for).” And then for sensory meltdowns, suggest quietly to the person that you both go somewhere else and take them to a quiet, distraction free zone.
Those areas can be difficult to find on the fly, so having a planned location just in case at places you visit often are a good idea. I have a special room at the hospital where I take individuals that need fewer distractions. It’s a large meeting room at the back of the hospital. People rarely use it during treatment hours. It’s located at the back of the facility, so the general traffic and noise outside the door is less. It’s well lit with 2 large windows to the outside so it isn’t necessary for me to even turn on the overhead fluorescent lights. But if the window light is too much, I can put down some window coverings to filter some out. The walls are neutral colored, and fairly sparse with only 1 painting. The only trouble is that it is sometimes left in disarray– chairs everywhere, etc.– after a lousy bunch used the room. But sometimes that comes as blessing, because the person I’m with can then refocus their outbursts efforts into reorganizing the room. But at the same time, all the furniture in there is very sturdy and/or plastic, so if they want to kick something over, no big deal… except maybe for their toes. I wish I had my own key to the room. When I use the room, I have to find the public key for it to get in, which can be frustrating when I’m trying to corral a “crazy” patient too. I think I’ll look into that.
The movie and the article are from completely different sources, but I felt like they belonged together. I’m a visual and experience based learner, so the video really brought the article home to me. Hope both of the items brought a little light into the sometimes frustrating area of understanding behavioral issues in the cerebrally impaired to ya’ll too.