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Why I Turn to Michael Bublé When My Daughter With Autism Has a Meltdown

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What is a meltdown? I don’t know what other parents who have children with autism call a meltdown, but I know what a meltdown looks and feels like in my house.

Tonight was going great. Both of my girls were in their beds and asleep before 9 p.m.

I was sitting down, getting ready to clean my kitchen and do the things I do when my kids are sleeping. Then I heard it — screaming and banging. I rushed into Zoey’s room to help her from whatever it was that was bothering her.

As I tried to figure out what could be setting her off, I noticed she was trying to get her long-sleeve onesie off. I went over with a short-sleeve shirt and a pair of bloomers and kept telling her, “Zoey, it’s OK. I can make it better. You’re OK.”

As I was doing this, she was thrashing, kicking and screaming. I took a kick to the face and another to my throat, but I continued to change her and tell her she’s OK.

My husband ran to help, and I yelled, “Get my phone!” He quickly returned with my phone, and I immediately played one of her calm down songs: “Lost” by Michael Bublé.

As I sat next to her, I sang along to the words. She leaned in next to me, and I was able to quickly kiss her forehead. I took her hand and placed it in mine and just held it. She grasped her hand around my thumb and laid down next to me with her blanket over her head. She’s never done that before. I sat there with the song on repeat for 10 times. She started to make a sound like she was humming or at least trying to hum the song in her own way. Then she looked up and smiled.

That’s what a meltdown is like in my house.

It isn’t a tantrum; it’s Zoey’s body and mind telling her and making her feel like she just can’t handle or cope with whatever it is that’s bothering her. It could be her clothes, it could be a sound, it could be she just doesn’t feel good. And she wants to tell me, but she can’t because the words are trapped.

I try and imagine myself as Zoey. I have a good idea of what it feels like for her, and it breaks my heart. Imagine having conversations and screaming for help, but no one can understand you or hear you. You get so frustrated because you want milk, but you don’t know how to point and say “milk.” You don’t know how to point or verbally express your needs or wants at all. And you so badly want to and when you try, only screams come out. Your voice is trapped. Frustration takes over and the only way to release that frustration is to rock back and forth, bang your head, flap your hands or spin. Sometimes you just hit your limit and you throw yourself onto the floor and cry and thrash around until that frustration eases.

For Zoey, music helps her calm down during a meltdown. She can hear the words and whoever is singing is singing to her. She has her favorites like Michael Bublé, especially when he sings, “Baby, you’re not lost.”

If he only knew the impact he has and how my baby becomes calm, relaxed and definitely not “Lost” when he sings.

Follow this journey on Melissa’s Facebook page.

Originally published: July 13, 2015
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