How To Prevent Meltdowns
For parents, dealing with ASD meltdowns can be exhausting. Preventing them can be a better strategy than trying to respond to them.
Sometimes you can use the information you know about the child to avoid common triggers:
- Know the childs sensory sensitivities such loud noises, bright lights, or strong smells
- Know the daily routine such as reading a story before bedtime, eating a certain food for breakfast
- Know the childs favorite things/places such a dinosaur toy, favorite blanket, a specific shop/store
Once you have these pieces of information, it will be easier to identify meltdown triggers and avoid them as much as possible.
For instance, if your child does not like a specific sensory input like bright lights, but you are in a public place where there are bright lights, try to redirect your child to avoid this area.
It might be necessary to improvise if you can not avoid a meltdown trigger. If you need to skip breakfast because you need to leave early for a trip, pack the childs breakfast so he/she can still eat it on the way.
Averting a meltdown may not be possible at all times, but here are a few ways to try to prevent them:
How To Use An Autism Meltdown Kit
A meltdown kit or a calm down kit is a customized set of objects that help prevent or de-escalate a childs meltdown.
To create your own meltdown kit, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
What kind of toys/activities does my child like to do?Can this item help stop or lessen a meltdown?Does this item have the texture/shape/color my child likes?
Based on the answers to your questions, here are some items that can be included in your childs kit:
- Fidget toys
- Sensory objects
- Musical instrument
Note that giving this kit to your child is ideal for preventing a meltdown. It might not work if the child is already in the middle of a meltdown.
How To Deal With A Meltdown
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
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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.
Meltdown Vs Temper Tantrum
Although they may look similar, meltdowns are different from temper tantrums. A temper tantrum is usually a childs method for getting what he/she wants. A meltdown, however, has no purpose and is beyond a childs control.
To be more specific, a temper tantrum happens when a child is:
- Frustrated with not getting what he/she wants
- Not able to do what he/she wants
- Not able to properly communicate
A child might stop a tantrum after the following responses:
- Being comforted by a parent or caregiver
- Being given what he/she wants
- Being ignored and giving up on his/her own
Youngsters who throw temper tantrums are aware and in control of their actions and can adjust the level of their tantrum based on the response they get from a parent or adult. Here we can use behavioral strategies to manage tantrums.
Meltdowns have entirely different causes. Because they are triggered by sensory overload, a child on the spectrum having a meltdown can have a few defining characteristics.
Autistic meltdown symptoms may:
- Start with pre-meltdown signs called rumblings which can be verbal or physical behaviors that signal an imminent meltdown
- Be preceded with stimming
- Be caused by overstimulation or an undesirable sensory input
- Not be limited to young children and can also happen to teens and adults
- Happen with or without an audience
- Last longer than tantrums
Once you can tell the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, then you can apply the right strategies to deal with the situation.
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Where And When Is Aggression Happening
Noticing little repetitive events can be golden. For example, does the child love going to the store, but hates leaving? The blow-up could be simple as giving them a transition warning when leaving the store.
Does the child always blow up at certain venues? Maybe theres a smell or a bad past experience there. Knowing when and where things are triggering them is a big help, and will give you some way to strategize.
About Aggressive Behaviour And Self
Autistic children sometimes express their emotions through aggressive behaviour towards others. Sometimes their aggressive behaviour can be directed towards themselves. This is called self-injurious behaviour. They might hit, kick, throw objects or hurt themselves for example, by head-banging.
Autistic children might behave aggressively or hurt themselves because they:
- have trouble understanding whats happening around them for example, what other people are saying or communicating non-verbally
- have difficulty communicating their own wants and needs
- are very anxious and stressed
- have sensory sensitivities, like an oversensitivity to noise or a need for stimulation
- want to escape from stressful situations or activities.
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Reducing Aggressive Behavior In Children With Asd
First and foremost, if you understand the causes of your child with ASDs self-injurious and aggressive behavior, this can help your child learn to manage the behavior.
How can you look at what is triggering the behavior and what your child is getting out of?Well, when accepting that aggressive behavior is sending a message, it is up to the parents to determine what that message is and provide the child with a more appropriate tool to deliver it.One strategy that can be beneficial to the parents is called the ABCs of behavior. The A is the antecedent , the B is the behavior itself, and the C is the consequence .
First, parents need to define the antecedent and look where the behavior occurred, who did it happen with, when did it occur, etc., being specific. For example, James hits his brother at night during the bedtime routine. The parents should closely examine what is happening immediately before the hitting. Is the child watching a favorite TV show he does not want to leave? Is the child scared of the dark? Is there a reason he does not want to go to bed? Then the parents should begin to adjust the antecedent. Such as, add the use of a timer before transitioning. Eliminate the option of watching TV before bedtime routine. Add a night light in the childs room. Provide a highly preferred item to transition with during the bedtime routine. The highly preferred item can be a favorite toy, book, blanket, etc.
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Managing Aggression In Autistic Children
Aggression is a common symptom in autistic children. Learn what parents can do to help manage these difficult behaviors.
Being a parent to a child with autism can be challenging in many ways. Not only does autism lead to delays and problems with communication and social interaction, but it can also cause many behavioral problems as well. In fact, many autistic children exhibit aggression as a symptom of their condition. This aggression often manifests as unexpected outbursts of biting, scratching, kicking, hitting, or throwing objects at people.
Managing Aggression in Autism
When your autistic child acts out aggressively, it can make public outings and social situations difficult. Aggression puts an added stress on people who care for autistic children, and dealing with aggressive behavior can be extremely challenging for their parents, caregivers, and teachers.
In kids with autism, aggressive behavior is often used as a way to get attention, obtain something that they want, or get out of doing something that they don’t want to do. And some kids act aggressively merely because they find pleasure in acting that way and watching others’ reactions to their behavior.
Behavioral Interventions to Treat Aggression in Autism
To be most effective, behavioral interventions should be performed continuously on a daily basis, so they require a great deal of commitment from caregivers.
Medications to Control Autism-Related Aggression
What Is An Autism Meltdown
A meltdown is defined as an intense reaction to sensory overwhelm. When a child with autism is overwhelmed, he/she knows no other way to express it other than with a meltdown. This might involve emotional verbal outbursts such as screaming and crying or physical reactions like kicking, biting or hitting.
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Autism And Aggression: Intervention Strategies
Aggression in children with autism can take many forms, such as hitting, kicking, scratching, biting or destroying property. A childs aggression can be directed at self or others, and can be scary for everyone involved. Not every child with autism displays aggression. But for parents and teachers that do have to deal with their childs outbursts of rage, feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and embarrassment often ensue.
Aggression is most likely a side effect of communication and/or coping issues. So when a child with autism becomes aggressive, there is a reason. For instance, many children with autism have a hard time with change, so changes to their routine can cause them to get upset. Its up to us to figure out why they are being aggressive and to teach them that 1) aggression will no longer be reinforced and 2) other things they can do instead of being aggressive.
Here are some strategies to use to get your child out of the cycle of aggression:
Teach Alternative Behaviors. Once you know the reason why your child becomes aggressive, the child should be taught how to get what he wants without hitting. For example, say your student throws items whenever he is asked to do independent seat work. You might try teaching him to say, I need help or Break, please. You may also need to figure out how to make certain tasks easier for the child. As time goes on, you can teach him to work independently for longer and longer periods of time.
How To Manage Self
Aggressive behavior is often also self-injurious. Self-injurious behaviors are, unfortunately, not unusual for kids with autism. These behaviors could be anything from biting, hitting, or even banging their head on the walls.
Watching your children hurt themselves is one of the worst things to experience as a parent. As parents, we want to protect them and help comfort them, but they may push us aside , so they can continue with the behavior.
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Autism And Aggressive Behavior
When a child engages in physical aggression, an immediate response is required, especially if the target of the aggression is a person. A lack of preparedness can result in a spontaneous reaction that may exacerbate the aggressive episode. The following techniques can help safely end physically aggressive episodes and deter repeat performances of physically aggressive behavior.
Common forms of physical aggression include:
To effectively neutrally redirect such physical behavior, the adult can prevent the child from making contact with her body by moving out of the childs range of motion. When moving away from the child is not possible, the adult may need to protect more vulnerable parts of her body with her own hands, arms or legs or by altering the position of her body relative to the child. After the adult has successfully avoided injury and the child has stopped aggressing, she will then guide him to engage in an appropriate task. It is very important that the adult not react to the child with exaggerated body movements or a change in facial expression.
More specific behavioral interventions include:
These techniques provide an adult with the safest manner to avoid injury from hitting behavior without needing to physically intervene.
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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What Is Medical Treatment
Medical Treatment is merely the treatment of the comorbid conditions that people with autism have. Those can be gastrointestinal disease, allergies, immune, metabolic, mitochondrial and detoxification pathway dysfunction, just to name a few. These conditions may cause or exacerbate the symptoms we see in the autism diagnosis. Treatment of these issues often reduces the symptoms of autism. The testing for, and treatment of, these medical conditions is called Medical Treatment for people with ASD.
- A very readable primer for Medical Treatments for Beginners:
- Did you know that your private Health Insurance will cover most autism treatments? Health Insurance coverage for Autism Treatment:
- 10 Great Ways to save on Medical Treatments, Medical Treatment on a Budget:
- Whats the path to treatment look like? TACAs Autism Journey Blueprints:
Why Do Asd Children Hit
For autistic children, aggressive behavior is a physical way of communicating when they cannot express their feelings in words. If they feel frustrated, upset, hungry or tired, their emotional state has a direct impact on their conduct.
This is why children react aggressively towards their parents or even siblings.
Aggressive behaviors are common and normal during early infancy, especially if your child has communicational challenges. The best way for you, as a parent, to deal with these situations is to understand what your child is going through and offer the support they need to express their emotions properly.
Also Check: Can A Child Outgrow Autism
Autism Masking In Women
When you are an autistic woman, you can struggle to have professionals, and others take you seriously.
Society expects all women to be nice and well behaved. Assertiveness is seen as a masculine behavior, and something women should not display.
Autistic men can say exactly whats on their mind, live their lives with logic instead of emotion, and its seen as a positive trait. However, when autistic women do the same thing, society shames us for being ourselves.
Prevent Head Banging In Autism: Sensory Strategies & Addressing Demands Frustration Pain Or Attention Seeking
Kids with autism or special needs may show a wide range of challenging behaviors such as property destruction, physical aggression towards others and, quite often too, self-injurious behavior. One of the most worrying self-injurious behaviors for parents is head banging.
This post proposes 25 tips and advice to prevent or minimize head banging in autism, adapting the strategies to the different functions of this self-injurious behavior: sensory processing issues , attention seeking, escaping demands, frustration, and pain.
Head banging, hitting the head with a fist, banging the head on the wall or floor are all different manifestations of the same behavior. For us parents it is an extremely overwhelming situation:
- fears of brain damage and for their general health and safety
- frustration over our inability at times to understand what is going on
- helplessness over our failed attempts to help them
- doubts about whether our actions help fix the problem or make it worse.
Today, I will try to put together a comprehensive document to help parents or caregivers that are facing this type of situation. Hopefully, by the end of this read, you will know a bit more about the following topics:
- most common reasons why kids engage in headbanging behavior
- tips and ideas to prevent it or mitigate the consequences
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