Parents With Children On The Autism Spectrum

Autism Tantrum vs Meltdown – Aggression May Apply

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Why Is This Important To Know?

This is a tough topic to discuss because NO mother wants to say, ” I have no idea what to do!” or ” I am the WORST mom ever!”. Although let’s face it, when your child starts wailing, while kicking their feet in the middle of a crowded department store and you are all alone, these words can be heard with such clarity, it is almost scary! And If you are like me, you would probably have two or more kids with you and the feeling of anxiety kind of doubles for me because I have to try to console one while making sure my other son is fine… or I would have two very strong-minded boys having an emotional moment at the same time. SO not ideal!

At these times the only thing stopping my own tears is the very babies who do NOT understand WHY this behavior is unacceptable, especially with no way to express them otherwise. Some people would assume it is the whispered words of others or the judgmental stares that make an unbearable situation so much more painful but it is not. It is the uncontrollable feeling that we can DO better, even though we are ding everything we can. We, the parents, seem to have such great patience that when they snap, we seem to feel not that far behind.

Upon researching tantrums with children on the autism spectrum, I have discovered the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, and why aggression can show in both! In this article Autism Tantrum vs. Meltdown – Aggression may apply, we can come to an understanding of the two and also come up with some tips on how to help our children during such an overwhelming time.

Let’s learn TOGETHER!!

Differences between Temper Tantrums And Meltdowns

Temper Tantrums in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be triggered with a variety of reasons. Children with ASD have difficulties communicating wants, needs, and emotion in socially acceptable ways. This can make them act out when they are confused, anxious, afraid, or stressed out about something. It can also be a method for getting what she or he wants.

More specifically, a temper tantrum happens when:

*Frustrated when not getting what he or she wants

*not able to do what he or she wants

*not able to communicate intention properly

The child may respond and calm down when:

*being comforted by a parent, caregiver, or someone close

*Being ignored and giving up on their own

*being given what it is they want(although this is most definitely not recommended)

Young children throwing temper tantrums are aware and are in control of their actions and therefore can adjust the levels based on the parents or caregivers response.

Meltdowns occur for entirely different causes. They are triggered by an intense reaction to sensory overload and he or she knows no other way to express this other than having a meltdown. This might involve having emotional verbal outburst such as screaming and crying; or can have physical reactions like kicking, biting, or hitting.

Since meltdowns are triggered by the sensory being overwhelmed, a child on the spectrum during a meltdown have a few defining characteristics.

Symptoms of an autistic meltdown may include:

*Can start with a pre-meltdown called “rumblings”, which can be a physical or verbal behavior that can signal an imminent meltdown

*Could be preceded with stimming (a repetitive self simulating behavior)

*Can be caused by over stimulation or a sensory input he or she does not agree with

*Can happen with or without an audience

*Is not limited to young children as it can also happen in teens and adults

*Can last longer than tantrums

When you can tell the difference between a temper tantrum and a meltdown, only then can the right strategies be applied so that we can learn to deal with each situation accordingly.

Does Aggression Go Hand In Hand With Tantrums And Meltdowns?

Aggression in children with ASD is referring to violent behavior that may include hitting, kicking, throwing objects, biting, and punching. Aggressive behavior in a child with ASD can be directed to others and themselves. unfortunately, both a tantrum and a meltdown can involve aggression.

Besides sensory overload, other reasons why a child with ASD uses aggression are when an object of comfort is taken away or when they are forced to do something they do not want to do.

Ensuring the safely of your child and others is the KEY goal! Some strategies would be removing the cause of aggression, providing them of calming toys and/or do activities, and giving your child a safe space (their calming space, usually the play area corner, so that he or she can calm down.

For The Love OF Our Children

I understand the frantic thoughts that speed in your head as you try to calm your child down. Trying to keep a level head is made more difficult the more time passes and the screams vibrate in your ears (yeah, the ringing is still there guys and I am beginning to think it is permanent, so pray for me!). Especially when my younger son, Jojo, falls into one of these, which is injuring himself during a temper tantrum AND meltdowns. Because of this, it was as much an AWESOME topic for me to cover, as well for so many parents who experiences this.

All parents know, knowledge is POWER and so we will use it to the BEST of our abilities, for the LOVE of our children!

**Please do NOT be afraid to drop a comment, write your experiences, ask a question and/or add to the conversation! I will LOVE to hear from each one of you guys, so come one, come all! – Keep Being AMAZING!**



**Please note that as I was writing this article, I kept thinking how important it is to equip us with the knowledge of how to deal with situations pertaining to temper tantrums and meltdowns. So I have decided on a ‘part two’ of this topic. It will be concentrating on how to deal with these behaviors and how to keep yourself from your own tantrum! lol – Much Love**

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  1. Enrique says:

    Hi, Brendaliz,

    An interesting topic indeed. I have a few friends who have kids with ASD. I can see their frustration at times when trying to calm them down. Hats off to them.

    Now, let me ask you something. Is this something hereditary? A cousin of mine had a baby a couple of years ago, and he was diagnosed with that disorder. I’d like to know if it’s something that could run in the family or not necessarily.

    I don’t have any kids yet, but it’s always good to know about this stuff. We never know when it may come in handy.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Brendaliz says:

      Hello! Thank you in your interest of children on the autism spectrum! From what was told, it is not hereditary. Although very much is still a mystery when it comes to autism disorder, there can be other factors but like I said, a mystery! 

      I hope this does not turn you off from children because a child with autism is BEAUTIFUL and even though it is a little more work, it is worth it!

      Keep Being AMAZING!

  2. Bailey Boudreau says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience on this important topic. It is very tough to know how to respond and calm a child down when you don’t know why they are acting up. Breaking down the difference between a temper tantrum and a meltdown can help us to understand the child’s behavior and, in turn, understand how to help them.

    1. Brendaliz says:

      Yes, I just want everyone to know it is okay and to be equip with the knowledge of how to deal with it, if such a situation were to occur! If you do not know how to, trust me, the situation could escalade.

      Even knowing the steps do not guarantee a calm baby lol! But never give up and try your best to never lose patience and everyone will be alright 👍!

      Keep Being AMAZING!

  3. We are in a world where we need information about so many things and one of those things is how to take care of our kids. Like you said, nobody. Wants to known to be a bad mother who doesn’t know how to take care of her vhidl. Like you have explained here, this is a good thing and understanding the autism tantrum the kids have will help us know how to deal with things.

    1. Brendaliz says:

      Hello and I will like to say, Thank you for coming through and dropping a comment!

      I feel like there are more cases than not, that parents do not know the how do, when it comes to taking care of our own. Whether it is because they are too young, lost, etc. Add in a disability and BAM, those feeling gets worst! 

      It is not the fault of our own. You either learn as I did, stressed out combing the internet for any information I can read or you can stop and stop by, ask me to cover a topic or maybe it is already written and I can direct you!

      All I am saying is that you can’t help something or someone, with out any knowledge to help guide them. That no matter how good (or bad) it is, a support system and people who surround you with experience and compassion is a great way to gain confidence and knowledge. 

      That is my dream, because feeling alone is just NOT what I want for anyone, especially in this type situation. Our children deserve love and acceptance and I hope my site can help all the parents who feel like that!

      Keep Being AMAZING!

  4. Law Matheson says:

    Greetings Brednaliz! I am very intrigued by your site and the article, however, I will mention that the site is very slow to load. That will hurt rankings, which is too bad because what you have to write about seems captivating. Autism and mental health in general, not to mention mental traumas, are often swept under the rug and cast out as taboo. I am glad that more people are talking about all of this in today’s day and age!

    I loved the article! It was well written, articulate, to the point, and personal enough that you trust what you are writing. I am actually really looking forward to reading more about what you have to write about. Best of luck, and you have a new follower!


    1. Brendaliz says:

      Thank you so much! I would LOVE to have you join me on my journey! Also, I am fixing and trying to move things around to speed it up a but I’m no techie lol so please bare with me!

      Thank you for your time and your conment too, I am so appreciative!

      Always Keep Being AMAZING!

  5. Justin says:

    Hello Brendaliz, thanks for sharing this very nice and well detailed article that I have to say its the best I have seen tofay on the internet considering the topic of discussion which is very critical. I have so much love for kids with any issue and they need to bee shown lots of care and not made to be left out in a thing at all. Cheers

    1. Brendaliz says:

      Thank you so much! I appreciate you taking time from you day to read and leave a comment! 

      Yes, our children deserve to be included and care for, and sometimes more so then with others! 

      Thank you for your interest and comment!

      Keep Being AMAZING!

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