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How To Calm Down An Autistic Person

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How To Deal With A Meltdown

Calm Down an Autistic Person

As no two kids with ASD are the same, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy on how to handle meltdowns. Not all meltdown strategies are guaranteed to work on every child on the spectrum. However, there are some general techniques that can be customized to your childs behavior and personality.

The best way to prevent your child from having a meltdown is to predict and avoid triggers. This can be avoiding crowds, establishing a set routine, and planning ahead.

However, when a meltdown is already happening, you can try the following approach:

  • Leave the room or location to help your child calm down
  • Use calming devices like a fidget toy, noise-canceling headphones, or a weighted vest
  • Choose a good time when your child is receptive to learning and teach breathing exercises, meditation, and counting from one to ten
  • Prevent injuries to your child or others during a meltdown by being in a safe place
  • Keep yourself calm as your child can feel your frustration and worsen the meltdown
  • Keep your face and voice neutral and be at arms length in case the child reaches out
  • Children who are in a meltdown cant be reasoned with so dont rely on logic

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.

Focus On What You Want The Child To Do Not What You Want Them To Stop Doing

How many of you have screamed at your child, STOP SCREAMING?!!!! with crazed eyes and clinched fists?

Minimize the use of dont and stop. For example, Walk on the sidewalk can be much more effective than Dont walk on the grass for a child who might not hear the dontor for one who isnt sure where the acceptable place to walk might be. This lets the child know exactly what you WANT them to do. Stop screaming becomes, Quiet please, Dont color on the table becomes Only color on the paper. Its counter-intuitive to the ways most of us usually parent but it works. There are times when theres NO WAY around a dont/stop statement. DONT COLOR ON THE DOG. STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER. Use your best judgement- youll figure out when you need to lay down the DONT law.

Here I ignore his screaming because he was mad that I gave one of his cars to his brother when he didnt want to share.

Here I praise him, Great job being quiet and playing with your cars.I know, it feels a little weird at first, ignoring your child while they are screaming or throwing themselves on the ground. But when they do that, they are attention seeking and giving them any kind of attention reinforces that behavior. They will learn it doesnt work and realize they get more attention when their behavior is good.

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Focus On Your Child Not Staring Bystanders

Meltdowns for any child can get noisy, but they tend to go to a whole other level of loud when its a child with autism.

These outbursts can feel embarrassing to parents when were in public and everyone is staring at us.

We feel the judgment from some saying, Id never let my kid act like that.

Or worse, we feel like our deepest fears are validated: People think were failing at this whole parenting thing.

Next time you find yourself in this public display of chaos, ignore the judgmental looks, and quiet down that fearful inner voice saying youre not enough. Remember that the person who is struggling and needs your support the most is your child.

Autism Meltdown Strategies For Children

Calm Down an Autistic Person (With images)

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.

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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.

How Is Raising A Child With Autism Possible

Doctors, groups, communication, patience, love. New parents to autistic kids are always confused, and usually, do not know how to handle and manage their child. Below are a few ways to learn how to calm down an autism child.

  • You should request the help of behavioral specialist: Since autism is a neuro developmental defect, its imperative to seek assistance from specialists who can contribute to improving the childs communication skills, social interactions, and sensory perception.
  • You should look for clubs and groups of parents who are taking care of autistic children. You can learn a whole lot by speaking with other parents about how they manage their autistic child. They may be able to refer you to the the best autism specialists near you.
  • In kids that have problems with vocabulary and languages, it is best to limit your communication to few words. Examples of these include: Sit down come eat, get dressed. The use of many words confuses autistic children.
  • Lots of patience: Raising a child with autism requires a lot of patience. Once it is understood that they are overly sensitive and can easily have meltdowns, it is best to talk to them with care, and to take the necessary time, no matter how long it takes, to understand them and the way they react to things.

Read Also: What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Autism

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.

Tips For Working With Adults On The Autism Spectrum

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

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.

Recommended Reading: Do Kids Outgrow Autism

Techniques For Calming An Upset Child

While it’s great to simply avoid getting upset, real-life can make it impossible. When that happens, these tips for calming may help:

  • Recognize signs. Very often, children with autism show signs of distress before they “meltdown” or become very upset. Check to see if your child seems frustrated, angry, anxious, or just over-excited. If she can communicate effectively, she may be able to simply tell you what you need to know.
  • Look for environmental issues that could be causing your child’s discomfort. If it’s easy to do so, resolve any problems. For example, close a door, turn off a light, turn down music, etc.
  • Leave the space. Often, it’s possible to simply leave the situation for a period of time, allowing your child time and space to calm down. Just walk out the door with your child, staying calm and ensuring their safety.
  • Have a “bag of tricks” handy to share with your child. Chewy or sensory toys, favorite books or videos can all defuse a potentially difficult situation. While it’s never ideal to use TV as a babysitter, there are situations in which a favorite video on a smartphone can be a lifesaver.
  • Travel with a weighted vest or blanket. If your child does well with these calming tools, bring an extra in the car at all times. If you don’t have weighted items, you might want to consider rolling your child up in a blanket like a burrito. For some autistic children, the pressure can be very calming.

Do You Know The Signs Of An Autistic Meltdown

Sarinah discusses autistic meltdowns what they are and how to identify them.

Common signs of a meltdown include hand flapping, head hitting, kicking, pacing, rocking, hyperventilating, being unable to communicate, and completely withdrawing into myself. All of these behaviours are methods of coping.

There are many things that can cause a meltdown but perhaps the most prevalent is heightened sensory processing. This can increase sensitivity to light, smell, heat, sound, taste and touch. An example of this can be the increased awareness of feeling your clothes against the skin. Underlying feelings of anxiety, stress or ambivalence can often make the sensory overload more severe.

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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.

Neuromodulation Of The Cerebellum Influences Social Behavior

Pin on wikiHow for Kids

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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Coping Strategies For Dealing With Meltdowns

Meltdowns are something which many people with autism experience and which they may have experienced since childhood. Meltdowns can be distinguished from tantrums on the basis of having no end-goal in sight. You dont have a meltdown because you want to achieve something from it . You have a meltdown because you have absolutely no other way of responding to a situation. In terms of emotional regulation, youve completely lost your ability to maintain control.

Meltdowns may result in you screaming, crying, throwing things, shaking, and/or yelling hurtful comments. They can be scary and damaging to people around you and, when youve had a meltdown, chances are you feel pretty bad about it.

So how can you deal with the fallout? The following strategies may help.

1. Accept that you did not want to act in this way.

2. Have a safe place for the immediate aftermath.

3. Working with those people close to you.

Meltdowns have an impact on people close to you and witnessing someone who is having a meltdown can be a disturbing experience. When you are ready to, it is important to discuss your meltdown with those people who may have been affected by it. It could also be useful to show them some autistic resources which explain the experiences of other people with autism who experience meltdowns, as it can be a very difficult concept for other people to understand.

4. Recognise when a meltdown is coming.

How Can I Help To Prevent Meltdowns From Happening

To try and prevent meltdowns in the future, it may be worth taking time to identify what is overwhelming for that person.

Completing a diary over a period of time may help to find out if meltdowns have particular patterns they could take place at particular times, in particular places, or when something in particular has happened.

A free behavioural record can be downloaded from the National Autistic Society website.

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How To Calm An Autistic Child

Techniques for avoiding and managing meltdowns by Lisa Jo Rudy

Autistic Children can have a tough time managing their behavior. Even high functioning children can meltdown in situations that would be only mildly challenging to a typical peer. Children with more severe symptoms can get very upset on a daily basis. Meltdowns and anxiety can make it very hard to participate in typical activities or, in some extreme cases, to even leave the house.

Its not always easy to calm an Autistic child, but there are techniques that can often be successful. Some require a bit of extra equipment that offers sensory comfort. Some of these items can be used in settings like school or community venues. If they work well, theyre worth their weight in gold.

Identify And Remove Sensory Triggers

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

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.

Recommended Reading: High Performance Autism

Set A Safe Place For Your Child In Your Home Where They Can Calm Down

This could be the childs bedroom or a playroom. Make sure the designated safe area is free of things that could break or otherwise harm someone if thrown or knocked over. You can set the mood of this safe place and tailor it to whatever your child finds soothing.

Try creating a more subdued ambiance by making the area less bright or quieter, if thats what your child prefers. Its important to remember that not every child with autism has the same triggers or preferences, so experiment to see what works best for calming your child down.

One child may dislike bright sunshine and prefer to have the curtains drawn, whereas another may find it entrancing.

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