Dashing out of my son’s latest appointment and into the busy London train station, then helping him up the flight of steps onto the platform just as the train pulls away!
We’ve missed our train, meaning we now have to wait for the next one.

Like a clip round the ear, I’m suddenly very aware of what that means! I know what’s coming and this train station has to be one of the worst places for it.

My non-verbal autistic son soon notices the change to today’s programme.
The train has gone.

This place is new, different.

Lots of people are rushing around and chatting. Strange noises. Bright lights.

It escalates at the speed of a train. Bam!

He’s thrashing his arms, screeching and howling, his fists raining blows on his own body. His behaviour is erratic and unsafe. Platform staff are coming over, “are you going to be able to keep him away from the tracks?”

People regularly ask me how I deal with my nine year old son's meltdowns.

What advice do I have for moments of sensory overload? How do I cope if he lashes out?
What do I do about challenging behaviour?

If I'm honest I don't think I even like the term challenging behaviour! To me, if I use those words, I feel like I'm saying he's challenging me and deliberately being difficult, but the reality is he has no control over these actions.
It's not his choice.
It's the cloak of autism and sensory overload controlling my son like a puppet, while inside he's scared and confused.
My part is to find my son again and loosen the grip of autism, and soothe him until I eventually get to hold his exhausted body.

So how do I deal with these situations? Well, I have no hard and fast rule. But if I can get in before I lose my son completely, then I use distraction. When it's past the point of distraction then I can only read him the best I can to judge, which is the next best step to take.

A lot of the time the only thing I can do is keep him safe, soften the blows and protect his head as he thrashes around and bangs it on any hard surface he can find.

Sometimes there is no answer, there is no magic tip, sometimes we just can't help but we can do our best to keep them safe.

If I find these situations hard then I can't imagine what my son must feel like! He has no voice to tell me when something isn't right or how he felt after. I have to learn the art of reading him and doing my best.

I keep him safe. I don't let him deal with it alone and I will be right next to him when it ends.

Read more about Nichola and her son in her blog, Autsim and Duanes Syndrome Awareness