A critical incident is defined as an extraordinary event that has the potential to cause unusually strong emotional reactions (Blacklock, 2012). Examples of critical incidents include, but are not limited to, being threatened with aggression, news of a significant medical diagnosis (for yourself or a loved one) or a job loss. During a critical incident, our coping skills can go right out the window, though many factors contribute to how an individual responds to critical incidents in the moment, including the number and type of incidents the person has experienced, their internal and external resources and their perceived and actual plan for moving forward.
Dealing with critical incidents is very important for caregivers of individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS), particularly biological mothers. Unfortunately, critical incidents occur frequently for many caregivers of children with FXS. Behavioral outbursts and aggression are critical incidents that take place in the home or in the community. For biological mothers of children with FXS who carry the premutation gene, there is the added predisposition to anxiety, as well as other emotional concerns (Coleman & Riley, 2014), which can amplify their response to these critical incidents.