Prevention Strategies And Treatments
Contemporary meltdown treatment and prevention strategies include various therapy and medical techniques. Many approaches incorporate behavioral and physical therapies to help with bodily autonomy and emotional control. Before any treatment or prevention plans are created, your patient/loved one will likely need to complete a Functional Behavior Assessment or a similar screening process to identify the functionality of meltdown symptoms.
Creating a behavior log to find patterns in context and surroundings leading up to meltdowns can help the evaluation. Behavior logs also assist parents and caretakers in understanding signs leading up to meltdowns. Learning these timelines allows greater insight into what sensory issues or comorbid conditions may cause meltdowns. Once the context is better understood, you can begin to practice calming techniques before meltdowns occur and teach your loved one or patient to identify their feelings before they happen.
Treating underlying comorbid conditions associated with autism is also essential. Sensory or emotional issues are often the result of uncommunicated pain or discomfort related to such conditions . If you have tried cognitive behavioral therapy and meltdown severity or prevalence hasnt decreased, consider speaking with a gastroenterologist, psychologist, or other medical specialists to address underlying issues.
What Can I Do When My Child Is Having A Meltdown
Sometimes an autistic meltdown is presented as just yelling and screaming. But sometimes they might involve self-injury and self-harm as well as biting and kicking. If the child is physically large, meltdowns become frightening and even dangerous. As the child doesnt have any control over their meltdown, it is often not possible to stop and control a meltdown in the process. In many cases the meltdown continues until the accumulated energy from the sensory overstimulation is drained. But there are many things that are important to do to support a child with autistic meltdown.
How To Support Your Child
Taking steps to support your child may reduce or prevent meltdowns. It can help to:
- Have a visual system to show them whats coming up that day. Timetables or visual timers can be useful.
- Use emotion thermometers or labelling to help communicate.
- Be consistent. Put routines in place. Make sure your child knows when things are happening. Try to keep the routines every day.
- Think about how you will support your child if unexpected events happen.
- Help you child understand what to expect in certain situations. Social Stories can support with this.
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How To Calm An Autistic Child: 31 Tips For Managing Autistic Meltdowns
If youre looking for tips and tools to help you figure out how to calm an autistic child at home, at school, in therapy, and while youre on the go, youve come to the right place! Keep reading for our best tips to avoid meltdowns from occurring, managing the length and intensity of them when they do, as well as our favorite calming tools and activities to bring kids back to a state of zen when big emotions threaten to take over.
Autistic Tantrums & Meltdowns In Public
If youre in public, your anxiety may be telling you all about how many people are watching and judging you.
This says nothing about you as a parent and everything about them. You are not a failure for trying your best with what you have.
If you are at home, remain calm and focus on ways you can help your child through this situation.
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Autism Meltdown Strategies For Children
Youve heard the saying: When youve met a child with autism, youve met one child with autism.
Because every autistic child presents differently, with varied skills, levels of relatedness, communication, and sensory processing profiles, it is impossible to have a one-solution-fits-all approach to managing meltdowns.
The following are some tips and strategies that have helped other parents, but you will have to consider these in terms of your individual childs needs.
Wed all like to avoid meltdowns completely, but thats not possible. Instead, some parents find it helpful to put strategies in place to minimize the stress and anxiety of daily life that may contribute to a meltdown. This is typically referred to as a sensory diet and can be beneficial in preventing and managing autism meltdowns.
Some common ones that support regulation across the day:
- Visual schedules
- Check off lists
- Activity or task schedules
- Routine sensory diet activities, for example, using a weighted blanket during sleep, engaging in deep pressure activities at certain times in the daily routine, etc.
Some parents find it helpful to schedule quiet time for their child, in order to allow for the downtime proactively before the activity of the day gets to be too much. Building in a surprise or question mark to visual schedules helps to shape behavioral responses to unexpected changes in routines that are often stressful.
Have A Game Plan For Meltdowns
When everyone is calm, sit down and ask the child what they need when theyre in that state, Pervez says. The answer will be different for everyone. Some children need a complete lack of sensory stimulation, and others are sensory seeking. For example, one child might want a weighted blanket, their choice of music, or to be left alone. Another might prefer physical contact, like the pressure from a service animal or a tight hug.
Its more challenging to understand what a young or non-communicative child needs. But listening, asking questions, using pictures, and paying attention to overstimulation can go a long way in calming the next meltdown when it occurs or stopping it before it becomes a blowup.
If you have a kid who is non-speaking or unable to communicate well, you can use a communication app, pictures, or a letter board, Pervez says. For instance, if youre visiting a new place, like a hospital or shopping mall, use pictures showing the child what that place will look like before going.
If youre unsure what the childs triggers are, try mapping the day or creating a visual schedule, Pervez says. Think about life events going on around the child, like changing schools, moving, bullying, or changing hormones. Find out what the child needs to feel safe again.
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Behavioral Strategies For Tantrums
You may have to try out a few of the following techniques in different situations before you find one that works for your child. In fact, youll probably need to keep several in your back pocket. Temper tantrums can have different triggers, and the rate at which your child is developing can also affect how quickly theyll learn skills like impulse control and communication.
Identify And Remove Sensory Triggers
Youve probably already identified stimuli which tend to trigger meltdowns for your child. For some children with special needs this can be a visit to the town pool or a ride on a crowded bus to camp. The important thing is to be aware of your childs sensory sensitivities so youll be prepared to act should a meltdown occur. In addition, youll want to keep record of stimuli which make a meltdown worse. This could include loud noises or flashing lights. You may even find that talking to your child during a meltdown can exacerbate the symptoms.
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Tips For Managing Autistic Meltdowns
Since no two individuals with autism are the same, managing autistic meltdowns can be quite individualized and it will take some trial on error on your part to figure out how to calm an autistic child successfully. The good news is that many parents, therapists, and teachers have walked the walk before you, and there are certain tools and strategies you can use to help keep big emotions under control when a meltdown threatens to erupt.
Be consistent and stick to a schedule. Children with autism tend to thrive best when their life follows a regular routine with consistency across the board. While this isnt always possible, maintaining a predictable schedule wherever possible will be helpful to your child. Talk to her therapists and teachers to ensure you are working in tandem, and when events threaten to disrupt your routine , give your child as much advance warning as possible.
Give warnings before transitions. Giving warnings before transitions is another great strategy for managing autistic meltdowns. This is especially important when a child is moving from a preferred activity to something he or she finds less interesting. A Time Timer is a great tool to use as it visually shows kids the passage of time, and providing a 10-, 5-, and 3-minute warning can also help make transitions easier.
Change Mood Through Exercise
The literature on the relationship between mood and exercise is extensive. If you can get the blood moving then endorphins will fire, and a euphoric feeling, sometimes called a runners high, can change your mood. Nowhere is this more true in children who have fewer filters and access to a more immediate response to endorphins.
You probably arent going to get your child to go for a run when they are really angry. Try instead for small gains keep them walking around after you, even if that means a trip around the entire house four or five times. Chances are theyre so keen to yell at you that theyll come without even knowing what they are doing. Its a dirty trick, but it works.
Sometimes simple things like tickling work. Its hard to be angry if someone is tickling you, but be sure that they arent so angry that youll just make it worse. Get down on the floor with them, wrestle, tickle and just turn a tantrum into fun. Sometimes theyre really just bored and a little physical engagement can do the trick.
Activities Teaching Strategies And Resources For Teaching Children With Autism
Because approximately 1 in 59 students are diagnosed with autism, learning how to help students with this disorder in the classroom is so important. Teaching young students with autism communication skills and learning strategies makes it all the more likely that theyll reach their academic potential later on. And the more you learn about autism spectrum disorder, the better youll be able to prepare these students for lifelong success.
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that causes hypersensitivity to sights, sounds, and other sensory information. Symptoms of autism generally fall into three categories:
- Communication issues
- Social impairment
- Repetitive behaviors
Here are 15 fun activities to help children with autism feel welcome in your class while addressing their symptoms and individual learning styles. Whether you play them one-on-one or as group activities, these are excellent ways to keep students with autism engaged and ready to learn.
What To Do During A Very Loud Very Public Meltdown
When our child has a meltdown, parents often want to stop the tears because it hurts our hearts that our kids are struggling. Or were running low on patience and just want peace and quiet.
Many times, were coping with the fifth or sixth meltdown that morning over seemingly simple things like the tag in their shirt being too itchy, their sister talking too loudly, or a change in plans.
Autistic children arent crying, wailing, or flailing to get at us somehow.
Theyre crying because its what their bodies need to do in that moment to release tension and emotion from feeling overwhelmed with emotions or sensory stimulations.
Their brains are wired differently and so its how they interact with the world. Thats something we have to come to terms with as parents so we can support them in the best way.
So how can we effectively support our children through these often loud and thrashing meltdowns?
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Tips For Working With Adults On The Autism Spectrum
Adults on the autism spectrum have specific qualities which make life especially challenging for them. Knowing ways to work with these individuals helps to ensure they get the best treatment possible. Autistic individuals need extra patience and compassion from those around them. Below is a list of tips for working with adults on the autism spectrum.
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Acknowledge Your Childs Emotions
Instead of telling your child to stop crying, you can let him/her know that you understand his/her feelings. You can validate feelings without giving in. For example, saying something like, I know youre upset that you cant have that toy, but we cant buy it right now. Maybe next time. This lets your child know that you feel bad that he/she feels bad, but there is nothing you can dofor now.
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Signs Indicating That An Autistic Child Is Going To Have A Meltdown
3. Is there an audience for the childs behavior or not?
Tantrum is a way for children to get the attention of their parents and adults and to lead them to do something that the child wants. Therefore, tantrums always happen when there is an audience.
For example, if the child is alone or not with parents or direct caregivers, they would not have a tantrum.
Autistic meltdown, however, is not an act to attract attention and reach a goal. Therefore, they can happen in any situation and especially more often when children are away from their parents and they are dealing with new people and new situations. Based on the type of sensory sensitivity one individual may have, they can happen in various environments and they are not necessary coming after a request is denied.
What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder
No one knows exactly what causes ASD. It probably has something to do with DNA the genes passed down from your parents and other things, like infections or toxins that change the way the brain develops. Problems during pregnancy and around the time of birth raise the chance of getting autism.
Vaccines do not cause autism.
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Soothe With The Senses
Certain sensory tools can help relieve stress in a child with autism, so find out what works best for your students and keep these tools within reach. For example, they may feel soothed by squeezing a squishy ball of clay or fidgeting with a toy or other trinket. Others may enjoy rocking back and forth or bouncing. Substitute large balls for chairs and the child may naturally be able to calm themselves by gently bouncing during class.
Neuromodulation Of The Cerebellum Influences Social Behavior
Allowing yourself to engage in stimming behaviourssuch as rocking, rubbing feet, and hand-flappingcan also have a calming effect on people in the pre-meltdown phase. Thinking about the meltdown as a peak in terms of a timelineone that starts from having self-care strategies, such as ensuring youve had enough sleep and are finding ways to manage stress, to the immediate build-up, to the calming down phase can help you regain control. This is in stark contrast to simply hoping that it wont happen again.
Although meltdowns and autism tend to go hand in hand for many people, it is possible, with the right strategies in place, to reduce their intensity and frequency.
For information and support, please visit
1. Mazefsky, CA, Herrington, J, Siegel, M, Scafa, A, Maddox, BB, Scahill, L, White, SW The role of emotion regulation in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 52, 7, 679-688
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Does Tantrum Happen In Children With Autism
Yes! Children with autism, similar to neurotypical children can also have temper tantrums. The challenge is to identify when a child is having a meltdown and when they are having a tantrum. This is very important, since the approach to these two situations is quite different, as we will discuss going forwards.
A Temper Tantrum Is Not An Autism Meltdown
A temper tantrum usually occurs when a child is denied what they want to have or what they want to do.
Parents observe many tantrums during the terrible twos. This occurs when young children are developing problem-solving skills and beginning to assert their independence.
In fact, this terrible twos stage is typically experienced between 12 months through 4 years old!
When you look at why temper tantrums occur at this stage, it is important to consider typical development and why toddlers are so easily frustrated:
- Emerging desire to become independent, but limited motor skills and cognitive skills make it impossible to actually BE independent.
- Emerging, developing language skills make communicating wants/needs frustrating.
- The prefrontal cortex of the brain has not yet developed – this is the brain center responsible for emotional regulation and social behavior – so they do not have the ability to regulate!
- Toddlers are developing an understanding of their world, and its often anxiety-producing. This anxiety and lack of control often result in tantrums when it all gets to be too much to manage.
A hallmark of a tantrum is that the behavior will usually persist if the child gains attention for his behavior, but will subside when ignored.
When parents give in to tantrum outbursts, children are more likely to repeat the behavior the next time they are denied what they want or need.
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Staying Calm During A Meltdown
Avoiding, managing, or planning for meltdowns can only go so far. It is simply not sustainable and can be extremely limiting for everyone in the family. A better solution is to help the child learn how to calm their own emotions.
The best way to be calm is to stay calm to start with. This is the first step to teaching your child how to manage their own feelings.
There are some techniques that, while not fail-proof, can make a big difference. Many are related to sensory integration therapy, a form of play therapy that aims to “train” the brain how to react to touch, sound, sight, and movement.
There are several things you can do to prepare for a child’s meltdown: