What To Do When Your Child With Autism Has Meltdown


I’m going to be honest: parenting a child with autism can be exhausting. Children with autism are often hyper-sensitive to what’s going on around them and prone to meltdowns. Even when you’re at your wits’ end, a meltdown from your child can feel like an attack—and that’s not fair! Yes, we’re all human and yes, it’s normal for parents (and children) to get stressed out occasionally, but here are some tips for making the most of these difficult situations so that everyone involved can feel better afterward:

Don’t make assumptions about what’s causing the meltdown.

Don’t make assumptions about what’s causing the meltdown.

When your child is having a meltdown, take some time to assess the situation and determine what might be causing it. You know your child better than anyone else does, so you may have an idea of what triggered their meltdowns in the past. But don’t assume that you know exactly why they’re having one now, or how to stop it before things get out of hand.

Don’t make assumptions about what will calm them down either: knowing your child well helps here too but won’t necessarily tell you what will calm them down during a meltdown (or stop one). You can end up doing or saying something that makes matters worse if it doesn’t go along with their needs at this particular moment in time—and this only adds fuel to the fire!

Remember that your child is still learning how to cope with life.

  • Remember that your child is still learning how to cope with life.
  • Meltdowns are a normal part of development and can also be a way for your child to express their feelings, get attention, or get their needs met.

Remember that stress also causes a reaction in you.

A meltdown is a reaction to stress. Stress is a normal part of life and it’s caused by external events, internal events, or both. Sometimes stress can be helpful and sometimes it can be harmful.

When your child has autism, there are certain things that you need to do in order to help him or her reduce their stress level and make them feel better so the meltdown will stop happening.

Establish a safe space for your child.

Establish a safe space for your child.

It is important to create a safe space for your child and give them a place where they can go when they need it. This also helps you understand when your child needs that space, so you can provide them with it if needed.

You can use this space as an outlet for their emotions and feelings, or simply as somewhere they feel comfortable enough to relax and play without worrying about being judged by others around them.

Give the message that you are there to help them deal with whatever is upsetting them.

When your child has a meltdown, it can be difficult to know what to do. Here are some tips:

  • Be supportive and don’t try to fix it. Instead of trying to make things better or stop the meltdown, focus on being there for your child in that moment. Remember that meltdowns are often a result of frustration and fear—and will pass with time.
  • Don’t try to make them feel better or stop crying. It might seem like this is going against the whole point of being supportive, but giving reassurance during an autistic meltdown will only make things worse because it encourages an over-reactive response from your child (they may wind up having another meltdown). Instead, just be there until they feel ready to talk about what happened or move on from whatever was upsetting them in the first place.*

Acknowledge their feelings, even when it’s inconvenient for you.

When your child has a meltdown, it can be very hard and disruptive for you. But it’s also important to remember that the tantrum is not about you or what you’ve done wrong. It’s about your child feeling overwhelmed by their feelings, and expressing those feelings in ways that feel safe for them. When you acknowledge their feelings without making them wrong or defensive, then they are more likely to find ways of being with those feelings next time they arise.

The more aware we become of how children with autism experience emotions like anger and anxiety—and how these emotions affect the brain—the better equipped we’ll be when our kids have meltdowns. When we understand what’s going on inside them, we’re less likely to react in ways that make things worse rather than better!

Do not focus on your own agenda during meltdowns.

When your child is having a meltdown, it’s natural to want to fix things. You want your child to stop and be quiet, so that you can get on with what you were doing. But focusing on these needs will only make matters worse.

In fact, the best thing for parents and caregivers of children with autism is to do nothing at all during a meltdown. By doing nothing you will give your child space and time to process their emotions and calm down.

Take care of yourself so you can take care of your child.

When your child is having a meltdown and you are not, it’s important to take care of yourself. You can do this by taking a break, going for a walk or run, drinking something hot or cold, getting some fresh air and eating something nutritious.

It’s important not to take a meltdown personally or be judgmental about it, as below-the-surface emotions are driving the behavior.

It’s important not to take a meltdown personally or be judgmental about it, as below-the-surface emotions are driving the behavior. If you can understand this, you’ll be in a better position to help your child find more appropriate ways of expressing feelings.


Remember that the goal is not to stop your child’s meltdown, but rather to teach them ways to manage it. By providing a safe space, acknowledging their feelings, and not taking it personally when they have meltdowns, you can help your child learn coping skills that will serve them well throughout life.

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