I need help.
How do you deal with PTSD and autism. Unfortunately, because Little Guy is non-verbal therapy isn't an option, and play therapy has also been ruled out to due to his functioning level.
We've hit a major bump in the road and I can't determine if something new happened or not, but strongly suspect something has trigger memories....I just don't know what to do to help him through this sudden terror.
It is so challenging when they can't TELL you what the problem is.
Does he allow you to hold him? Does rocking help him? Do you think he understands when you speak to him about things? If so, could you tell him, just in simple terms, that he's okay now, that you won't let anything happen, etc.
I would talk with his autism specialist about it. I suspect they might have some ideas. Things that work for my non verbal daughter to calm her are carrying her and patting her back. Giving her a disabled remote control and sometimes (even though she is 11) a pacifier. None of those are long term fixes but they do seem to control the immediate emotional pain
I just wrote out a huge long reply and lost it. *sigh*
My son has classic autism and fairly severe PTSD. The PTSD is a result of 6 1/2 years of abuse and neglect, and major loss (lost two families - his bio family when he came into care at 3 1/2 years old, then his first foster family when he was removed from them and placed with us due to abuse/neglect 3 years later).
Traditional PTSD therapies such as talk therapy or play therapy aren't effective for my son, as he has severely limited verbal and social/play skills. We also learned from a therapist we took him to that, because of his autism and the communication issues that come with that, trying to address PTSD directly with him was likely to trigger and re-traumatize him (way too easy for him to misunderstand).
It took us 4 years to figure it out, but what has been the single biggest help for us in addressing some of the underlying grief issues that cause his PTSD was creating a lifebook. It frames his life into a coherent narrative in a visual format that he can understand. It doesn't talk about the abuse and neglect, as there was no way to appropriately include them, and I believe it would just upset him and re-trigger him. It does have a photo of his birthmom and him hugging the last time he saw her, when he was 5. That's the "goodbye" page, where both of them clearly look very sad. For the time he spent in foster care, there weren't any photos available, so I took a picture of his old house, old school, etc., and managed to find a couple teensy tiny pictures on facebook. Did the best I could. The book then moves on to adoption and his life with us.
He looks at this book at least once a week. He really likes the part about his birth family, and will touch the picture of his mom holding him as a baby and say "he looks just like me" and smile :) He looks at the page about his foster family, and generally just gets quiet.
Since I put together his lifebook for him, he's stopped crying for his foster mom at night (did that when he first moved in, then it resumed when he was re-triggered a year and a half ago by a couple sessions with a play therapist he used to see when he was in foster care with her. This trigger is what prompted me to make the lifebook). He's also stopped saying things like "I'll be replaced" "you'll send me back" and "when do I go to my new house?" (all huge feats in language for him and completely heartbreaking). Instead, he now, whenever we're arriving home, says "MY house. My forever house. Forever family. Yeah." Pretty big progress.
PTSD is still a part of our daily lives. There are many triggers - we learn them and avoid them as much as possible. The most significant impact PTSD has on our family is that ds is hypervigilante, and, unfortunately, when he feels threatened, always chooses fight over flight. So aggression, particularly in stressful environments like school, or if he's left with an alternate caregiver, is a big issue.
Hope that helps!