All peeps have a bucket, right. Peeps who are neurotypical (non autistic) have an automatic variety, that empties of its own accord whenever needed. Autistic peeps though, theirs aren’t of the automatic variety. So this means they need to take breaks throughout the day, and make conscious, intentional efforts as their day progresses to empty it themselves. If autistic peeps aren’t given opportunities throughout the day to empty their buckets, or if they forget to – it overflows.
And when their bucket overflows: this is called a meltdown.
So what sort of things can add to an autistic person’s bucket? Well, it totally depends on the person!
It could be things like:
Plans that change.
Meeting new people.
Music that is too loud.
Really hot days.
Really cold days.
The smell of other people’s food.
Being at work all day.
Being at school all day.
Being at kindergarten all day.
Going for long drives.
Going to new places.
Having to make a decision quickly.
Other people eating food.
Having a problem but not knowing how to talk about it or not being able to.
Being pushed to a deadline.
Being given too much information at the one time.
Having to sit still and quiet all day.
.. and the list goes on. All this stuff adds up. If we can consider that our autistic child, for example, has been at school all day, has had to be around new people with a change in routine and has had to travel home in a noisy car – it’s any wonder their buckets are overflowing by the time they get through the door – if they even make it to then!
This is why I will emphasise the importance of preventative breaks.
What I mean by this is regular opportunities for our autistic peeps to chill out, recharge and recalibrate.
This can be done through a multitude of methods, all of which will depend on the individual’s sensory profile and preferences.
Maybe it’s lunch alone.
Maybe it’s colouring in.
Maybe it’s time on the iPad.
Maybe it’s using noise-cancelling headphones.
Maybe it’s chilling out in a cubby alone, reading.
Maybe it’s not talking to someone as soon as they get in the door.
Maybe it’s not asking questions as soon as they get in the car.
Maybe it’s a crunchy snack, and a sticker book.
Maybe it’s a prior agreed-upon talk-time limit, and then it’s quiet time.
Maybe it’s playing computer games.
It really doesn’t matter what method it is, at the end of the day. But it’s about being compassionate and understanding.
Let’s be aware of each others needs. It really isn’t about whether you’re autistic or not, it’s about taking everything into account and being mindful and supportive of each other. Life is hard enough, consider the bucket analogy and help others. It isn’t rocket science.