You're out shopping with your child, it's busy lots of people walking past with shopping trolleys and baskets. They are wearing different varieties of clothing, textures and colours contrasting. Some of them have on deodorant or perfume. Some aren't and need to.
There's bright packaging and tins on the shelves, different smells of bakery bread and doughnuts. People are discussing what to have for dinner, a baby screams and someone laughs loudly. Tinny music plays, tills beep,and the fifty hertz drone of the fridge freezers hum.
The overhead strip lighting blinks sixty beats a second which is plainly visible to someone with light sensitivity.
Then everything stops.
It's as if your on a merry go round that's suddenly frozen, words and sounds slur into a drawl.
Your child silently sinks to the floor and lies down.
Most parents reaction is to try to get them up. The floors not clean and they are embarrassed, people tut and make a big thing of going around you with their trolley.
What they don't realise is that your child grounding.
They have had an overload of sensory invasion, the floor has began to tilt and the rooms swaying. They need priopreceptive feedback, something cool and solid to regulate themselves on. So they do what anyone would want to do when feeling like they just got off a roller coaster.
They sink down.
What as a parent should you do? This is not a meltdown, this is not a painful sensory overload. This is a need to regain control, to breathe and feel the solidness beneath their cheek and palms as the world and surrounding environment slows down.
The feeling is best described as disorientation and loss of balance.
Sit down with your child.
Yes it's in the middle of the supermarket/ high street/ bank queue but pulling them onto their feet before they are ready will cause a meltdown of epic proportions.
Firm rubbing on their back and low words of encouragement will help your child know that you are there and they are safe. When they are ready sit them up, take it slowly and help them up as they may be unsteady.
They need to be somewhere quiet and if that means abandoning the shopping do so as right now they need to be getting home.
We as adults can experience shutdowns. It may be after a stressful communication, or a particularly busy work day. Spinning and feeling like a vortex is pulling you down the only thing to do is make your way to bed, lie down and sleep.
This will answer the questions of why your child lies down in the street, it's not naughtiness or being stubborn. As someone with Autism I can say from my perspective it's like being on a floor that's moving and desperately trying to stay upright.
The five phases of a shutdown.