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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

Meltdowns & Tantrums 101: Share Stories, Frustrations, Tips, and Advice

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Members of our wonderful group have posted many personal stories about meltdowns, offered helpful tips, reached out to each other for support and shared helpful information and resources.

Get started with these 5 tips then click below to find more:

1. Be Proactive

~ Use these tools to stop meltdowns before they begin: Take note of what triggers meltdowns so you can avoid those places/behaviors/situations, set a schedule and explain expectations to your child, be clear about consequences.

2. Use Distraction

~ Try to head off tantrums before they occur by distracting your child with something they like -- a book or favorite toy, a calming exercise or game.

3. Pick your battles

~ If your child is in a safe place, sometimes allowing the meltdown will help it end sooner.

4. Ignore others

~ Public tantrums can be particularly frustrating.  The best thing you can do is focus on your child and what you need to do for them and ignore everybody else.

5. Use rewards

~ Encourage good behavior with a rewards program.

Click here to find even more tips and advice for handling tantrums and meltdowns, or share your own in the replies below!

Need advice on a specific issue?  Start a post to share your story and receive support!

by on Dec. 15, 2011 at 7:56 PM
Replies (11-20):
3bee106
by on Feb. 2, 2012 at 1:06 PM

my little girl has a meltdown at least 2 times a day . she will be saying donalds maybe for mcdondals im not sure. one day we juts got home from mcdonalds and she juts keep repetting donalds and i said no we juts got home from donalds. she juts got more upset and was pulling at me to get my shose on  it lasted for about 2hours, of me holding her from hurting herself and me. any thought on how to find out if its food she wants or is it because she  can now say a word? she as very few words.

PROUDMOM0531
by on Feb. 11, 2012 at 5:16 AM
1 mom liked this

Love these tips i use them frequently with my son i have a 10 year old in 5th grade we had a problem this morning with his cousin right before school ....i let him stay home just this once i didnt want him to have a fit at school or take it out on someone ....i cheered him up a bit and he had a ok day ... i just want to help him get along with others its pretty hard 

princess_1983
by Bronze Member on Feb. 11, 2012 at 8:36 AM
How can you ignore your kid when your in the car and he just keeps screaming?
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momtoscott
by on Feb. 11, 2012 at 9:23 AM
1 mom liked this

Meltdowns can be a real problem and we had a lot of trouble with them when my son (he's 14 now) was younger.  Sometimes he just needed to be able to let off steam physically, and it's hard to find a safe space to do that.  In school, he was allowed to go to the bathroom and be by himself for a little while if things were getting too loud or stimulating for him.  I learned to watch for the signs that a meltdown is coming--when he is breathing in a funny way, for example--and try to head it off.  In the car sometimes I would pull off the road and stop, or turn around and go back home, if he was out of control.  As my son has gotten older, he has gotten more control of himself and melts down a lot less frequently.  We have all had a lot of practice dealing with him and know that calming down is really important.  Because now that he is 6' and 170 lb, my kid knows he could really do some damage with a meltdown, and he understands, mostly, that that would be a terrible thing.  It's a struggle, but I think the most useful things to know as a parent are your kid's warning signs and decisions about where you are going to draw the line--the picking your battles thing. 

Faithtoday
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Obsession with Small Worlds.  My 13 year old daughter is so obsessed with Small worlds that if I don't allow her to play it for hours everyday, she melts down to the point of violence to herself, property and family members.  She kicks holes in the wall, grabs knifes, threatening to hurt herself, attacks other family members and destorys property.  She has recently started choking herself and scratching up her arms.  I recently cut her back from the computer because it's the only thing she wants to do.  Once I let her on, she melts down when I ask her to get off.  The past two weeks her meltdowns have become so extreme that she's been taken away on a psych hold two times.  I feel like if I give in to her, she will continue to just get worse with this obsession; however if I don't let her just play in her free time, she's going to end up either arrested or taken away to a residential care facilities. She's in the hospital right now but coming home this week.....HELP!!!

If I give in to her, she won't get off, do any chores, brush her teeth, have any interaction with anyone or do or go anywhere.  It's out of control and it's very frustrating and scary. She just started her menstral cycle 2 weeks ago and her meltdowns have become so severe.  She's also very depressed, wanting to make friends but she refuses to go anywhere.  In fact, she was just put in a special ed class 3 weeks ago and she's only gone 4 days.  In between meltdowns to the point of hospitalization.  We have professionals at our home almost everyday working with her but she goes in to a rage and doesn't use the tools they've given her to calm down.  I've even been prescribed a mild tranquilizer but she refuses to take it.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

candyk7
by on Feb. 16, 2012 at 6:09 PM

My son has custody of his son who is 7. He has autism. They removed him from his Mother and his home. He has 3 brothers but 1 came with him to Daddy. Dad lives with us. His Mom and Dad (Grandparents). We have set a stable enviroment. Schedule etc. He is what the therapist calls, "Pushing boundaries". BC weekend and vacation Dad (FUN DAD) has become custodial Dad and that is a whole different ballgame. He is ok here. He seems to be adjusting. We've had him since the end of Jan. But he will be eatting cereal that he loves for breakfast and all of a sudden he will switch from happy to tantruming. He is also acting out in school. I haven't really found the trigger yet and he has been sick quite a bit in the last few weeks. I am just in need of any advice. 

tolansmom
by on Feb. 18, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Does any one have advice? My son is 6 almost 7 and is on the spectrum we are having a hard time getting him on the bus for school. I have a picture schedule for him to follow in the morning and he does that just fine but when it comes to finding his center point toy for school before he gets on the bus he melts down screaming throwing him self on the floor. We let him melt and then comfort him when he is ready. but it seems to melt down again if he cant find his toy and by then he misses the bus. We have tried getting him up earlier to find it. putting all his toys in one space, Finding it first on his after getting dressed but not much is working. any ideas? 

Romes9
by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM

My son has had melt downs since he was a baby, holes in the walls, broken toys, torn sofas. He would take showers with scalding hot water, he truelly went threw a lot. At three I got help,started him on meds and  things wasn't so bad( still had the tantrums) just not as bad.  Well recently they gave him more meds and things are changing for the worst. He now is 9, broken school windows, punches teachers ect. During the tantrums there just isn't any reasoning, where do I get more help? I'm at my whitts end!!!

Jenny7153
by on Feb. 28, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Has anyone with a child with Asperger's tried counseling?  We're just wondering if we should pursue it, since our 11 year old is becoming more unacceptable with his speech and some aggressive behavior.  We have found that if we see even a little frustration creeping up, we immediately go to calm down mode to prevent an explosion.  This has helped immensely, however it's not possible in every circumstance.  Especially when it comes to his brother who isn't old enough to understand this and sometimes engages in arguments that end in "I hate you!".  We're trying to teach him that the yelling and terrible things that he says are unacceptable.  Any ideas?  Has anyone found counseling to be effective?  Oh yes, another thing that helps in case anyone is interested, is that we've started making daily exercise mandatory.  We explained to him that he gets angry more than most people, and needs this to relieve his stress.  I think it does get him in a more positive mood.

Jenny7153
by on Feb. 28, 2012 at 10:27 AM

I noticed you said he recently has had a change in meds.  I know a little about psych meds, and if there's a recent change it could mean that he's going through an adjustment period, or it could mean they are simply not working and need to be changed!  

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