Thursday, June 20, 2024

How To Calm Down An Autistic Child

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Children On The Autism Spectrum Are Not Dumb

How to Calm down an autistic child – one simple trick to help your child

Kids with autism have the potential to be absolutely brilliant. Theyre also talented, philosophical, kind, and creative. This is something much of society fails to see, but in truth, the autistic mind is simply wired differently than those not on the Autism Spectrum. Hans Christian Andersen, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Michelangelo, Mozart, and Sir Isaac Newton all are said to have exhibited autistic tendencies.

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How Do You Calm An Autistic Child From Screaming

The question How do you calm an autistic child from screaming? is a very common one. Many children who have been diagnosed with autism have meltdowns and most of them can happen in public places. This may become a very uncomfortable situation and confusing if you are dealing with this for the first time. During a meltdown, it is important to:

  • Be empathetic and remain calm.
  • Make the child feel safe and loved.
  • Avoid punishments.
  • Break out your sensory toolkit.
  • Once they are calm, teach them coping strategies.

We will continue to talk about each tip or recommendation in-depth. These simple tips will help you manage meltdowns but remember that every child is different so what works with one child may not work with another. However, one of the most important things to do when we encounter challenging behaviour it is very useful if we analyze why the behaviour is occurring.

Ways To Help Autistic Children Recognise Anxiety

Your autistic child might need to learn what anxiety feels like in their body. For example, when your child feels anxious:

  • their palms get sweaty
  • they get a strange feeling in their stomach
  • their heart beats faster
  • their hands flap.

You could try drawing an outline of a persons body. Inside the outline, help your child draw or write what happens in each part of their body when they feel scared or worried.

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Difference Between Meltdowns Tantrums And Aggression

Aggression in kids with ASD refers to violent behavior that may include kicking, hitting, throwing objects, punching, and biting. Aggressive behavior can be directed to others or oneself. Both a meltdown and a tantrum can involve aggression.

Outside of sensory overload that leads to a meltdown, there are other reasons why a child with autism uses aggression. Some children become violent when an object of comfort is taken away from them, or when they are forced into something they do not want to do.

The key goal of handling aggression is to ensure the safety of the child and others around him/her. Some strategies would be removing the cause of aggression, providing calming toys and/or activities, and giving your child a safe space where he/she can calm down.

Ways To Help Your Child Or Young Person

How to Calm an Autistic Child During a Meltdown
  • Keep a diary to help them to explore their feelings. Log what makes them feel anxious so that you can understand the triggers.
  • Use visuals and plans to help your childs understanding of their feelings. This can lessen the impact of changes and reduce uncertainty.
  • Look at your childs environment. Are there ways that you could adapt it together to make it less stressful?
  • Think about calming strategies and activities that your child can use. You could try using a fidget spinner or watching animal videos. Some children might find yoga, meditation or colouring can help. Others might benefit from physical exercise.
  • Use apps. Molehill Mountain is an app to help people with ASD to understand and self-manage anxiety. Brain in Hand is not specific to any condition. Its for anyone who finds anxiety or unexpected events can disrupt their day.
  • Try counselling or CAMHS services. Talk to your GP about whether this would be a helpful route to take. They may be able to direct you to extra support and refer you to mental health services.

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No I Dont Just Need To Discipline My Child More

Meltdowns are not tantrums. They are not the result of a lack of discipline on the part of the parent. Children on the Autism Spectrum have sensory issues. One child may be a sensory avoider, while another is a sensory seeker. And kids with sensory issues do not respond well to physical punishment. Spanking, time out, and yelling are not usually effective tools of discipline for a child with autism. Rather, parents of children on the Autism Spectrum rely on routine and repeated exposure to teach their autistic children rules and boundaries.

How To Calm A Child With Autism

There are certain calming do’s and don’ts that apply to most children with autism. These are based on the factors that autistic children have in common, specifically:

  • Difficulty with understanding social norms and conventions
  • Difficulty with following or using non-verbal communication
  • Unawareness of others’ likely reactions to behaviors
  • Sensory challenges that can get in the way of positive behaviors
  • Lack of social motivation

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Tantrums Meltdowns And Takeaways

Both tantrums and meltdowns are manifestations of difficulty with emotional regulation skills and if they persist beyond the stages of typical development, can be associated with other diagnoses like ADHD, autism, sensory processing dysfunction, learning disabilities, depression, and anxiety.

While tantrums are behavioral in nature, meltdowns have a sensory, physiological basis that warrants different management strategies. While neither are fun outbursts to experience, focus part of your energy on proactively supporting your childs emotional regulation.

In the moments of tantrum or meltdown, use the guidelines weve outlined above to find what works for your child, and please share with Harkla what management strategies work for you!


Autistic Meltdown or Temper Tantrum? by Judy Endow, MSW.” Ollibean. N.p., 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 25 May 2017.

26 Sensory Integration Tools for Meltdown Management – Friendship Circle – Special Needs Blog.” Friendship Circle — Special Needs Blog. N.p., 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 May 2017.

Bennett, David D. “Decreasing Tantrum/meltdown Behaviors of School Children with High Functioning Autism through Parent Training.” Social Science. N.p., 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 May 2017.

Acknowledge Your Childs Emotions

A calm down plan for autism spectrum children/teens: preventing tantrums and meltdowns

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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Causes Of Anxiety And Challenging Behaviours

If your child displays many challenging behaviours, for instance screaming non-stop, can become a very frustrating and overwhelming situation to deal with as a concerned parent. Challenging behaviours or tantrums can make it very difficult for children with autism to participate in typical activities or even prevent them from leaving their home.

Certainly, it is not an easy task to calm a child with autism but there are certain techniques on how to help them calm down. However, we need to consider how children with autism react to physical and emotional distress differently than typical children. For instance, they may not be able to say I want a toy or I dont want to do it, instead, they will throw fits to get what they want to avoid doing something they simply dont feel like doing.

Subsequently, as a result of feeling stressed, anxious, excited, frustrated, etc., they will display behaviours that we consider challenging and for them have become adaptive. You can predict some of the stressors that generate the sensory assaults that provoke the screaming such as a loud noise or a major change in their routine but some are less obvious.

What Are Facts About Autism

  • Autism spectrum disorders now affect 1 in 68 children.
  • Autism spectrum disorders are one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the United States.
  • The term comes from the Greek autos, meaning “I”, and autism literally means “one”.
  • Autism spectrum disorders affect all nationalities, beliefs, religions, races, and genders.

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Tip : Guided Meditation

Not all children with autism will react positively to these types of techniques but many may get a lot out of mindfulness techniques for emotional regulation. If you notice your childs behaviour gets worse instead of better then look for environmental cues about what is causing your childs distress such as turning the light off or turning the music down.

Calm The Child With Beautiful Scenery

Calm Down Kit for Older Kids

Its commonly agreed that visual aids for autism can help autistic children who struggle to settle for bed. Sleep deprivation will affect a childs mood, as it will a parents ability to help them. If you struggle for hours at a time to help your child to settle, as visual aids are the perfect solution.

Being highly sensitive to sensory perception, autistic children will benefit greatly from 4K HD videos of relaxing streams or idyllic beaches. In a matter of minutes, a soothing calmness with wash over them, allowing them to drift away into the quiet recess of slumber.

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Calming Activities To Prevent Autism Meltdowns In Class

When students with autism are feeling overwhelmed, the intense response that they feel may cause them to lose control of their emotions. This is called an autism meltdown and is different from when students without autism act out in class. While the best strategy for autism meltdowns is to seek help from a school specialist, these calm down activities can help to de-escalate stressful situations.

What Do Tantrums Look Like

Tantrums differ from one child to another. They can be spectacular explosions of anger.

The child may lose it with frustration and disorganized behavior.

During tantrums , the child may cry, stiffen up, scream, kick things around, fall down or run away. Some children hold their breath, and some even vomit.

They may break things around the house. Children with autism could get aggressive when they are throwing a tantrum fit.

This is how autistic children may express their frustration with the challenges that they are facing.

Thirst , hunger, tiredness: Some examples that can lead to tantrums.

When they get frustrated, they get angry. And when they get angry, they can throw a tantrum.

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How To Calm An Autistic Child: 31 Tips For Managing Autistic Meltdowns

This post may contain affiliate links.

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.

What You Can Learn From An Autistic Child

Calm Down an Autistic Person
  • Focus on the main voice. Label. You can read this sentence because your brain ignores most of the sounds around you.
  • See life through the lens of God’s Word. Label.
  • Train yourself to remember God’s unchanging love. Label.
  • Speak the truth clearly in love. Label.
  • Be constantly in the grace of God. Label.

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Is Hitting A Sign Of Autism

Hitting is not a universal sign of autism but people with autism tend to engage in behaviour that can cause harm to themselves or others when they feel frustrated, overwhelmed or unwell. Some of the behaviours that you may see are banging their head on walls or other objects, hitting themselves or others and hitting their head with their hands. Since some of them lack communication and social skills, this seems to be an adaptive behaviour that gets them the attention they desperately seek.

Work With Their Parents/carers

Parents and carers are the true experts on their autistic children. To fully support the child in and out of school, you should therefore coordinate and share knowledge with them. Both of you can suggest interventions that have worked at home or in school for the child and can integrate these into their routine.

Not only will building a relationship benefit the autistic child, but it will also help the parents and carers feel at ease about their childs education. Your commitment to working with them will build their confidence in the schools ability to support their child.

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Calming Strategies For Autism Meltdowns

Now, before I jump into these strategies, I have a word of warning.

Please dont do all of these immediately when your child starts a meltdown.

You need to know what works for your child, and what their sensory preferences are.

Not every strategy will work for every child, so test them out one at a time to see what works best for your child.

What Are Common Characteristics Of Autism

50 Tools Every Autism Mom Should Have in Her Calm Down Kit

Many people with autism have sensory problems. It is usually an over- or under-sensitivity to sound, light, touch, taste, smell, pain, and other irritants. Autism is also associated with many specific physical and mental health problems. Children and adults with autism have difficulty communicating verbally and non-verbally.

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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.

Make Your Child Free Safe

You have probably identified stimuli that tend to trigger meltdowns and tantrums. Sometimes the child is lost in emotions, and most times, you need to talk them down from their panic. Your main priority during these situations is to remove any triggers. You may require to switch the music off or search for a quieter, more soothing environment. You should do everything you can to create a cozy space where your child will feel safe. You let them feel safe and loved by staying as near to them as they are comfortable with.

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What Is Elopement And How Does It Affect Individuals With Autism

Leakage is a common problem in people with autism, and in some cases the results are tragic. The flight consists of leaving the designated area without permission. This could be a parent running away to a park or store, running away from home when a caregiver is distracted, or running away from school.

What Triggers Autistic Meltdowns

Calm an Autistic Child

An autistic meltdown is usually caused by a sense of overload. Your child will have no control over their reaction. They may not be able to tell you when they feel overwhelmed.

Learning what triggers a meltdown can help you feel more prepared. Every child is different, but some common triggers include:

  • Sensory overload or understimulation. This is when a child is sensitive to sound, touch, taste, smell, visuals or movements.
  • Changes in routine or dealing with an unexpected change. People with autism often prefer to have a routine in place. They can be sensitive to even small changes.
  • Anxiety or anxious feelings.
  • Being unable to describe what they need or want. Communication is often non-typical for those with autism. It can feel frustrating for them when theyre misunderstood.

Keeping a behaviour diary can help spot possible patterns. Note down when meltdowns happen. Write down what you were doing, where, and your childs reaction.

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What Does It Mean To Elope With Someone

The initial definition of an escape is to flee, not to return to the place of origin. However, as defined by the National Institute for the Prevention and Resolution of Leakages , an escape refers to a person with cognitive difficulties or special needs who wanders, escapes, or leaves an institution or environment.

Causes Of Anxiety And Meltdowns

Unlike their typical peers, few autistic children “throw fits” in order to garner more attention or to get a desired outcome . In most cases, autistic children react to physical or emotional stress without any particular agenda they are simply expressing feelings of excitement, frustration, or anxiety or responding to sensory assaults.

The reality is that children with autism, in general, may have less control over their emotions than their typical peers as a result, emotional explosions are more common.

It’s not always easy for a neurotypical parent to predict or even recognize situations likely to upset a child with autism. Ordinary changes in a daily routine such as a detour on the way to school can be terribly upsetting to some autistic children .

Odors such as the smell of fresh paint can be a sensory assault. Even the fluorescent lights at the grocery store can be overwhelming to certain individuals.

At the same time, however, any individual child may react differently to the same situation from day to day. An overwhelming stressor on Tuesday can be experienced as background noise on Thursday.

In general, it’s possible to predict at least some stressors and minimize them. For example:

  • Very loud noises such as the sound of fireworks are easy to predict and avoid or minimize.
  • Major changes in routine can be predicted, discussed, practiced, and planned for,
  • Unavoidable noise and smells can be managed and planned for in advance.

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