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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 (31-40):
monster38
by on May. 14, 2012 at 3:58 PM

What do you do when the talking doesn't work and the aggression becomes more of a problem than the actual meltdown, and when the word no passes your lips you see that child cringe and automatically  lash out...what do you do then,almost always in a public place but not limited to hitting , biting ,scratching and screaming at the top of her lungs...there is only so much you can ignore and only so many times i can leave the store...i am a single parent (divorced) and i dont have help all the time... besides if i leave her with someone everytime i have to tell her no on something she will never learn to cope or get better at dealing with that as an answer...so what might any of you suggest?

kajira
by Emma on May. 14, 2012 at 5:42 PM
1 mom liked this

my son gets sensory overload and can't express what's wrong.

I find that redirection works for smaller things - but when he gets *too* overwhelmed, he needs a physical outlet.

We found that tight-hugging, wrestling with dad doing ji jitsu - and other physical related outlets that could let it out in a less negative fashion works pretty well - the problem is it's his go-to answer for everything in every situation... 

if I use something in one situation to redirect his attention off a meltdown, he gets so fixated he won't let it go and will beg for it non stop when he's not melting down and self-trigger a meltdown. LOL

So, we try to switch it up enough for him that he doesn't "Expect" something every second and demand it - it reduces his meltdowns because he doesn't expect the same thing each time.

We are consistant in redirection and other methods - but we try to switch up what we "use" as the redirection...

I really find that custom tailoring our approach to suit our childs personality is the utmost key to reducing problems... I read a lot and can take bits and pieces but you really have to custom tailor *everything* to fit your individual child or it may blow up in your face.

(sorry, your post prompted my spew, i like your posts)

Quoting momtoscott:

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. 


momtoscott
by on May. 14, 2012 at 5:55 PM
1 mom liked this

 I am reading a really interesting book right now that is not at all about autistic kids, but is about child-rearing and expectations of kids and their behavior.  It's called "Bringing up Bebe" and is about an American woman who lives in France and has a child there and how different the French parenting style is.  I am only about halfway through it, and not everything is generalizable to our kids, but it is really a cool book. 

And one of the things she talks about is the French parents paying attention to their kids' rhythms and figuring them out, then helping those rhythms align with the family's. 

Quoting kajira:

my son gets sensory overload and can't express what's wrong.

I find that redirection works for smaller things - but when he gets *too* overwhelmed, he needs a physical outlet.

We found that tight-hugging, wrestling with dad doing ji jitsu - and other physical related outlets that could let it out in a less negative fashion works pretty well - the problem is it's his go-to answer for everything in every situation... 

if I use something in one situation to redirect his attention off a meltdown, he gets so fixated he won't let it go and will beg for it non stop when he's not melting down and self-trigger a meltdown. LOL

So, we try to switch it up enough for him that he doesn't "Expect" something every second and demand it - it reduces his meltdowns because he doesn't expect the same thing each time.

We are consistant in redirection and other methods - but we try to switch up what we "use" as the redirection...

I really find that custom tailoring our approach to suit our childs personality is the utmost key to reducing problems... I read a lot and can take bits and pieces but you really have to custom tailor *everything* to fit your individual child or it may blow up in your face.

(sorry, your post prompted my spew, i like your posts)

Quoting momtoscott:

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. 


 

Jean2

kajira
by Emma on May. 14, 2012 at 6:06 PM

I've read a few of those kinds of articles and blogs on french and other parenting styles - I haven't read that one in particular though... but I can kind of picture what it talks about since there's tons of really neat articles on that type of parenting.

I kind of feel like there's no "one size fits all" for anything. very few people can just take a matched set off the hanger and have it fit perfect.

(for example, a bathing suit, I need a medium on the bottom and a small on the top!! so a Small or a size medium for a bathin suit just won't work with out mixing and matching the pieces to fit my figure.)

^^^ that above anology is pretty much how I think of parenting. I am not stuck in a box when it comes to parenting, the "situation" is the box... so I custom tailor to fit the box in each situation and my son's needs in that situation. 

I think having to custom tailor to his needs which are hard because of his OCD triggers - an example - his sister is teething, and once during a meltdown he asked for ice, and I let him have some ice like his sister gets for teething and it stopped the melt down and we had a really nice evening.

Now, he associates ice with good feelings and wants ice every 5 minutes. LOL I don't mind giving him ice sometimes, but he literally will ask 50000x a day - so, with redirection, and rewards, we have to be careful because his brain isn't really capable of grasping some of the simpler concepts of rewards for X behaviors and not melting down when he asks and doesn't get it - and that just because you got something *once* doesn't mean you get it every second of every day.

He has a really hard time associating two things together in the correct fashion/order/way - which I don't know if that's an autism trait, or more unique to himself. LOL

He's really smart, but can't figure out simple things.. I'm doing a really piss poor job of explaining what i'm trying to say because it's a complex issue and I don't fully have the words to paint the pictures/concepts i'm trying to get out on this topic either.

Sigh....

haha, anyways, we've had to do a lot of trial and error to figure out how his quirks manifest and to keep them tempered. We do stories and give analogies and then have him explain back to us what our point was, or draw us a picture to show us what our point was... and he still has a hard time grasping stuff.

his comprehension level seems really, really below average - even if on paper he's academically intelligent when it comes to testing.

We really just have to be observant and cater to his particular cues until he learns how to control himself better, and speak up for himself more with words instead of screaming or melt downs or bad behaviors.

- as an adult with similar wiring, I can understand how much hard work it is, and know that we can do our part, but he has to be willing to do his part too. He has to choose to figure it out partially too and not just ignore it.


Quoting momtoscott:

 I am reading a really interesting book right now that is not at all about autistic kids, but is about child-rearing and expectations of kids and their behavior.  It's called "Bringing up Bebe" and is about an American woman who lives in France and has a child there and how different the French parenting style is.  I am only about halfway through it, and not everything is generalizable to our kids, but it is really a cool book. 

And one of the things she talks about is the French parents paying attention to their kids' rhythms and figuring them out, then helping those rhythms align with the family's. 

Quoting kajira:

my son gets sensory overload and can't express what's wrong.

I find that redirection works for smaller things - but when he gets *too* overwhelmed, he needs a physical outlet.

We found that tight-hugging, wrestling with dad doing ji jitsu - and other physical related outlets that could let it out in a less negative fashion works pretty well - the problem is it's his go-to answer for everything in every situation... 

if I use something in one situation to redirect his attention off a meltdown, he gets so fixated he won't let it go and will beg for it non stop when he's not melting down and self-trigger a meltdown. LOL

So, we try to switch it up enough for him that he doesn't "Expect" something every second and demand it - it reduces his meltdowns because he doesn't expect the same thing each time.

We are consistant in redirection and other methods - but we try to switch up what we "use" as the redirection...

I really find that custom tailoring our approach to suit our childs personality is the utmost key to reducing problems... I read a lot and can take bits and pieces but you really have to custom tailor *everything* to fit your individual child or it may blow up in your face.

(sorry, your post prompted my spew, i like your posts)

Quoting momtoscott:

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. 


 


olleo
by Member on Jun. 20, 2012 at 5:10 PM

My son has been in aggressive meltdown mode for two weeks.  I know what the problem is and there's nothing I can do about it, except take him riding.  And even that has quit working.  We rode for two hours today, during which he continually screamed and ripped pieces of my truck off.  I love my son but I'm at my breaking point.  I've called his neurologist in hopes of discussing a change of meds but for some reason, even during business hours you get the message that the office is closed.  That's been the case the whole time we've been seeing him.  So today I called another neurologist and am waiting on a call back from them.  In the meantime I've run out of options and nerves. 

vivi234
by on Jun. 23, 2012 at 2:44 AM

BUMP!

twade26
by on Jun. 30, 2012 at 11:57 AM

I would love to know how to deal with meltdowns. Even when I just asking my son to do something he has a complete and utter meltdown. He freaks out and starts crying saying he is sorry which eventually leads to him getting so upset he makes himself throw up. I feel like I cannot say anything to him in fear that he will freak out on me.

lula5
by on Jul. 7, 2012 at 12:34 PM

My soon to be four year old has meltdowns all day long.recently he has been more violent with his tantrums.he has been kicking  and punching us.it has gotten really out of control.sometimes he seems to do it just to horseplay.its frustrating for me and the rest of the family because no matter what we are doing or where we are going his meltdowns seem to take up most of our energy.our days are filled with chaos.it is frustrating because we have tried everything.is this normal?will my boy out grow this?if anyone has been through this please let me know how we can get through this. 

jeannea421
by on Jul. 17, 2012 at 8:35 PM

My son gets sensory over load however his teacher thinks his meds (for adhd) need to be increased. The worse part is they have a romm for special needs but charge a extra $100 a week for the child to be in there. They just dont get that they would be helping my child the teacher and other children all they think about is the money. So they charge $300 a week for daycare. Sometimes people with the most education still dont get get it. Feel your pain

Jward2100
by on Jul. 21, 2012 at 10:12 PM

We had a meltdown in the middle  of six flags today. My church took a bus there for a half day trip.  I wanted him to go because parks in the past have been ok.  People were looking at me like I was the next greatest show.  After he scream so long the park stuff got me a stroller and help me get out.  He turn 11 Thursday and is 115 pounds.  My whole body hurts and  my heart because I could not stop this.  I have a nine year old who had to walk around with someone from church, it was the worst he has even been .  How can I make it ?  It was just me alone in a park no help.  Cried all the way home

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