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Managing Autism Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Aggression

Autism spectrum disorder or ASD experiences maladaptive behaviors such as aggression and other symptoms such as Autism meltdowns and temper tantrums. These are challenges that can be tough for the child itself with autism, as well as with their parents, guardians, and caregivers. 

Managing Autism Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Aggression

Though the three (3) can always be compared, autism meltdowns, temper tantrums, and aggressions are not the same.

They have some similarities, but overall, they are not the same.

First are aggressions

Aggression with autism can also be common, especially if they are feeling very anxious and stressed or have difficulty communicating their own wants and needs. This vicious cycle can be their reaction if they want to escape stressful and overwhelming situations or activities.

It just does not occur for young children or older kids, but aggression can also be experienced in teenagers and adults. So whatever their age is, they can experience this and may act out aggressively.

They tend to express their emotions or feelings through aggressive behaviors towards themselves and others.

Symptoms of aggression can be kicking, punching, biting, hitting self or others, and throwing objects. 

Some children can be violent and very aggressive when forced to do something or stressed. Autism and temper tantrums can be associated with aggression.

Though all children with autism manage aggression differently, there are several ways to cope with it.

First, you can provide them with calming toys or activities to distract them.

Also, give your child a safe space to calm down to avoid hurting himself or herself and others.

There are also studies that support that medication is also effective when it comes to this.

However, before taking your children with medication, you should consult your specialists first.

Moreover, another way to cope with and manage aggression is to get professional help. Do not be afraid to ask for others’ help, especially when it concerns your child’s behavior.

Specialists such as psychologists can help you understand and stay calm in certain situations, helping your child learn new and effective behaviors.

One famous method of specialists is the Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA therapy program.

Managing Autism Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Aggression

Overall, when your child is experiencing aggression towards himself/ herself or others, one effective method is you should always stay calm.

Do not panic, so you won’t add any triggering factors or tension that can potentially add up to your child’s aggression.

Take a deep breath, acknowledge your child’s behavior, and help the child by letting them feel loved, cared for and supported.

Temper tantrums

Tantrums can be common for children. This usually occurs when they want to have something and they are denied.

Children use these styles to express frustration gain attention and get what they want. 

There are also many reasons why temper tantrums happen with them. But one common reason would be being denied because they want something.

Usually, with this activity, children have control over their emotions and behavior, which can be adjusted in many ways, such as comforting them or getting what he or she wants or needs.

There are also many ways how to lessen temper tantrums and how to handle them.

One good way is to reinforce positive behavior and respond to them appropriately.

Giving them what they want when they are having temper tantrums is not advised because children are more likely to repeat this behavior the next time they are denied. 

Acknowledging your child’s emotions and letting them understand why is important.

Be comforting and know what effective behavioral strategies to manage tantrums are.

Meltdowns, on the other hand, can always be compared to having temper tantrums, but they are totally different from each other. 

Meltdowns are common experiences that happen with people with autism. They can happen with or without an audience – even when you are at home or in public.

Managing Autism Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Aggression

Autism meltdowns

Are when they lose control over their behavior and are frequently preceded by warning signs and cues.

These meltdowns are where they lose control over their behavior which can be tough and difficult for them and their parents or caregivers

People with autism are hypersensitive to their senses. Meltdowns are the results of having been caused by overstimulation or undesirable sensory input.

Some triggering factors that can result in a possible meltdown could be very bright lights, loud noises, too many people, and such. 

Meltdowns are their response to them being overwhelmed and anxious about these things.

Other things triggering meltdowns are feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed.

Changes in routine and communication difficulties can cause them to result in a meltdown.

People with autism, especially young children to teenagers, are not fond of changes, so it is good for them to cope with these kinds of situations by giving them time and a heads up, plus taking small steps.

Communication difficulties are also common with people with autism, making them frustrated and anxious, resulting in a meltdown.

Being overwhelmed and anxious is expressed through a meltdown.

Even though all are unique and have different ways to cope, here are some tips on how to manage a meltdown:

Stay calm

Do not panic and breathe. Panicking and not knowing what to do will add more tension. Stay focused and stay calm.

Use distractions

Social stories and sensory tool kits are great distractions for them to be busy.

Minimize stressors and potential triggers

Try your best to find potential triggers that can result in a breakdown.

If you are out in a public space, avoiding areas and places that can trigger a meltdown with your child is best.

Teach them coping strategies when they are calm

  • Letting your child wear headphones to listen to calming music.
  • Turning down or removing bright lights.
  • Distraction techniques, such as fiddle toys.
  • planning ahead for any change in routine, such as a different route to school.

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Managing Autism Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Aggression

Meltdowns vs. Tantrums

Meltdowns and tantrums are often associated with each other.

However, these two things are different from each other. Autism meltdown is different from a typical temper tantrum, and they have entirely different causes. 

Temper tantrums are when the child is frustrated when he or she is not getting what he or she wants, attention, or needs.

This is usually when they want something, and their behavior is in their control. It can be minimized or stopped when they get what they want.

On the other hand, meltdowns are completely different because the child usually cannot control their behavior with this.

Autism meltdowns are caused and triggered by sensory overload, being overwhelmed, stressed and anxious.

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