I was reading an article in O Magazine, called "Cloudy With a Chance of Rage" in which the author explained how she found herself being increasingly agitated and verbally abusive with people while not knowing the root of the anger.
I thought about the many times I've had to suppress the desire to punch people in the face; bad driving, not holding doors, judgmental looks at my kid's behavior, and the list continues. It's not just a Jersey thing. And maybe, just maybe, there is a wee bit of stress in my life that contributes to these feelings.
I thought about how similar these feeling seem to the meltdowns that I deal with at home and then it all made sense. The feelings behind the meltdowns weren't solely an Autism expression of anger and frustration,as it was a person expressing their feelings. Although many ASD kids don't have the words or the ability to deal with or identify the root of their feelings, we ALL have anger issues which stem from frustrations and stressors in our lives. How we cope with them is as individaul as the triggers that cause them.
When our kids have meltdowns, we give them a time out and expect that they can redirect out of the mess in just a few minutes. At the end of the time-out, sometimes they seem fine. When they don't, we do what we need to do to get them back on track. However, when they melt down again 10 minutes later seemingly from the same stressors as before, we seem suprised and even a little annoyed that they are back in the melt-zone so easily.
The author quoted anger-specialist, author, Ronald Potter-Efron PhD's book, Healing the Angry Brain. He said, "People assume they're calm after 30 seconds of deep breathing, but our bodies don't recover that quickly. Though we may feel a pseudo-calm, most people truly need 20 minutes to an hour to truly let the emotion pass."
I had to read that several times to realize the good news; that is normal behavior that applies to everyone; It wasn't ASD specific.
The main difference between the average mind and the ASD mind, is that usually we can reflect and determine what we need to do to get ourselves out of the muck; exercise, call a friend, drink a glass of wine, whatever. However, our kids on the spectrum have a bit more difficulty pulling out, redirecting, and moving on. It may even take days for those that tend to perseverate on things. I know that when #2, the Aspy, comes home from school in an agitated state, that he won't be good again until he takes a long rest in a quiet place, otherwise, he can't let it go.
The good thing about the article is that it reminded me that everyone feels anger and needs an adequate cool down period. I realized the cool-down time I give the kids is really based on what I think they need. At least in this category, I'm doing something right. And I should grant that amount of time for myself and everyone else too.
As long as I have an ample opportunity to keep my temper in check, we're all good. No one-finger-salutes on the highway today.