To help our Emily with sensory overload bolting we have come up with the Hide and come seek me game. She often runs off if overwhelmed.
Keeping a sensory avoider safe when their first response to an adverse Sensory overload is to bolt (run off) can be a real struggle.
While your Autistic child is young you can secure them in a pram, pushchair or trolley. As they get older then Reins can fill this gap too.
But other than sensory management techniques to prevent overload what else do you do when your Autistic Child wants and needs some independence and adventures as they get older?
Well this is where it comes to having to rethink and start to include after reaction techniques alongside the prevention.
This is where with help from Emily’s therapist we have come up with the Hide and come seek me game.
Hide and come seek me game
So this game is simple but requires 3 people to start with. Yourself the safe person to stay put (me), an other carer to play and guide the Sensory bolter (in our case Jessica) and then the sensory Bolter themselves (our Emily). It also requires at least 2 communication devices (walkie talkies, mobile phones to text, call and send pictures.
The idea behind the game is to reduce the ongoing trauma of being lost after a sensory overload meltdown has caused your bolter to run off seeking sensory comfort (in Emily’s case a small confined area with reduced light and sound). Once they have recovered from their initial reaction they come to realise they are lost and alone. Having lost the carer they rely upon to overcome the next stage of meltdown, a period often high in emotional distress this can cause an other meltdown or put them in danger from what/who is around them.
To conquer this we are teaching Emily to seek help and to help us find her when this happens hence the hide and come seek me game.
How to play
It is important you play this somewhere your autistic is safe and comfortable in to start with (can start at home, then maybe home and the street they live, favourite park near home etc)
- Emily will guide Jessica off to hide finding a sensory safe spot.
- Once in the spot Jessica will help Emily describe where she is to me via text
- I follow Emily’s description of things around her to help me find her
- I will ask questions and she will reply however is easiest for her (voice message, picture, words etc)
- We continue until I find her
The idea is the easier she finds it when she isn’t distressed the easier and more likely she is to be able to do it when distressed or upset after a meltdown.
Learning to live alongside your/their condition is key
There are behaviours our heads and bodies need to do, While you can change some dangerous behaviour’s to safer and more healthy ones. Not all can be changed bolting is one of these. It is deep ingrained into nearly all animals as part of the Fight or flight responses. you can try as much as possible to reduce the triggers for such behaviours. however, this is only possible so far without impacting the child’s ability to get as much out of life as they can.
This is why it is vitally important to try and ensure when these behaviours do show up the autistic has tried and tested ways to minimise the dangers it could cause.
While there is nothing you can do to keep them safe while bolting if they have already slipped your grasp you can make sure they can help you find them again.
For more information about our Neurodivergent lives and how we manage to live with our conditions you can find them here.