July 6, 2011
The Meltdown to End All Meltdowns (literally)
"What percent of the day do you spend trying to avoid tantrums?"
"Only about 80%" was the answer I gave to a therapist when Caroline
was three. By the time she was four, it declined to a mere 60%. Now at age five, it's closer to 20%.
Here's the story...
When teaching doesn't work
Having to do things we don't want to do and not always getting our way are lessons we try to teach our
As parents we're told the terrible twos (and threes) are all about testing parameters and tantrums are
common. But what if the tantrums are more like complete meltdowns and they don't improve much with
age? What if you have the distinct feeling that you're facing a problem that can't be fixed by ignoring
It could be you're dealing with a child who's sensory system is atypical and possibly has a biochemical
imbalance, making him or her genuinely unable to control emotions. It could be you're dealing with
"meltdowns" and not "tantrums."
More than a case of semantics, there is a "difference between a tantrum and a meltdown"
Put simply, a meltdown is not a power play and a child is generally incapable of stopping one - even
when given the very thing they wanted that set it off - because they have completely lost control of
The beginning of the end
Until Caroline was 4 1/2, meltdowns were a major daily problem. She'd lose control over all of life's
minor disturbances - ones that wouldn't even register on most people's scales.
We were constantly on alert, scanning her surroundings for any person or thing that might set her off
and trying to adjust the setting to best match what she needed. Exhausting! Especially when your
approval rating, by the only person that mattered, was still lower than [insert ANY politician here]
Things were improving with biomedical treatments, but not fast enough. And then it happened, the
day of meltdowns that ended it all...
There was a day last November when she was crying several times an hour over things that were so
insignificant, it's impossible even to recall. We noticed that it wasn't the half crying - half screaming,
that usually accompanied her meltdowns, it was genuine sobbing, tears streaming down her face as if
a real tragedy had occurred.
That day was shortly after we started chelation (detoxing metals), so I posted a question on the
Recovery From Autism yahoo group and the moderators told me I needed to give her Adrenal Cortex
Extract (ACE). There was no "well, you might try this or that" It was very matter-of-fact that ACE
would fix the problem.
You see, chelation can be a hard on the adrenals and often reveals adrenal fatigue in children who
were borderline before starting. So, we gave it to her and within minutes and for the rest of the day,
there was no more crying, no more meltdowns, just calm. Life alteringly calm.
Solving a big piece of the puzzle
Since that day, we've given ACE every day and it's kept her meltdowns to a very manageable level. If
she's acting irritable, uncooperative and when asked whether she's going to have a meltdown, the
magic ball says "Signs point to yes," we give her more. We never leave home without it.
We feel lucky to have stumbled upon her need for it, since she undoubtedly suffered from adrenal
fatigue prior to chelation. There have been days that we don't give her any ACE - just to see - and
the meltdowns and or crying spells return immediately. If only we had known about adrenal fatigue
years ago, we could've spared her a lot of pain.
What are the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue causes cortisol imbalances which can cause:
• Excessive emotions, anger/irritability/outbursts
• Insomnia (including night waking when cortisol is elevated at night -- this was the case for Caroline)
• Allergies, including skin rashes, food allergies, asthma
• GI issues
• Low blood pressure - craving salt (to raise it) and dizziness
• Sensitivity to light / touch / sound
Yes, we meet several of those, what's next?
As with most things we've tried with Caroline, if there aren't negative side effects associated with a
natural supplement and research strongly suggests that her symptoms may benefit from it, we try it.
There are tests for cortisol imbalances, but when you can determine if ACE will help in about a day, it
might be worthwhile to give it a try after considering the following:
|Adrenal Fatigue in Children
Adrenal glands are essential to life because they help the
body cope with, adapt to and withstand physical, always
recognized by physicians, many ASD children have
problems with their adrenal glands.
Stressors are cumulative and if they persist over time,
adrenal insufficiency or even an adrenal crisis may result.
Dr. Georgia Davis specializes in Adrenal Fatigue and you
can click here for information about her.
We have tried several Adrenal Cortex Extract products, but the one that works the best, doesn't taste
bad (at all) and is the most cost effective is Adrenal Cortex Extract Liquid We give Caroline
between 5 and 10 drops a day - primarily in the AM and never after 2pm. It raises cortisol, so if you
give it too late in the day it can keep them awake at night. If this happens, try a product like
Phosphatidyl Serine to reduce cortisol.
There are also several natural herbs that can support adrenals.
Eleuthero and Rhodiola are two we use, but we can't get by without
ACE. The herbs are not as strong.
Goodbye Meltdowns, Anxiety and Sleepless nights
With ACE, Caroline's demeanor has remarkably changed. She's
less fragile and more able to control her emotions. She recovers
quickly from most upsets, has less anxiety, fewer sensory issues
and is much, much more tolerant.
ACE quite literally changed our lives, if your child has similar
issues, and you haven't yet tried it, it's worth researching and it
just may become your new secret weapon too.
Adrenal Cortex (or Adrenal Cortex Extract) is a glandular
supplement that can help support stressed adrenals, a
delays. Adrenal stress can be debilitating and will likely only
worsen over time if not addressed.
Some signs of poor adrenal function are "anxiety with OCD,
poor task switching, sensory integration problems" (per
Andrew Hall Cutler, PhD), and avoidance of other activities
by engaging in avoidance behaviours such as repetitive
movie watching or other types of stimming.
It is important that your supplement is made from the outer
portion of the adrenal gland (the cortex) and comes from a
very safe source."
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