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10 Tips for De-Escalating Autism Sensory Meltdowns

January 11, 2021

As a parent to a child with autism, you’re probably no stranger to meltdowns. You’re also well aware that changes in routine can trigger or exacerbate meltdowns. That’s why the summer can be particularly trying for both kids with autism, and their parents. During a sensory meltdown, children with special needs have very little control over their behavior. They may scream, break things, attack others and even try to hurt themselves. While it’s painful to see your child lose control for seemingly no reason, meltdowns help you understand when your little one is experiencing sensory overwhelm. As a parent, it’s essential that you learn to recognize the signs of a meltdown so you can keep your child safe, and help them regain control and composure.

Perhaps what’s most terrifying about a sensory meltdown is the extent to which a child loses control. During a meltdown, a person with autism is completely unaware of their actions and what’s happening around them. Their behavior is an involuntary, knee-jerk response to sensory overwhelm. It’s almost as if they’ve had a complete break with reality. While it is heart-wrenching to see your child experience this, with enough awareness and proactive intervention you can prevent them from causing harm to themselves and others. 

When you can’t be with your child, AngelSense GPS Tracker for Autism can help you be there for them when they need you the most!

What’s the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum?

A good place to start is by understanding the difference between a sensory meltdown and a tantrum. The two are easily confused which is why many dismiss meltdowns as nothing more than a badly behaved child’s cry for attention. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Special needs child having a meltdown

Tantrums are behavioural outbursts which are a deliberate attempt to get something. A child could have a tantrum for many different reasons. They could, for example, want their parents’ attention or perhaps they want their parents to buy a specific toy. Unlike meltdowns, a child having a tantrum is in control of their behavior, and will most likely stop acting out when they get what they want. Tantrums and meltdowns are very different and cannot be handled in the same way. By simply dismissing a meltdown as a petulant child acting out, you can cause severe harm to a child with special needs.

We put together some tips which may help you calm your special child during these trying times. But remember, what calms one child with special needs may not work for another. The important thing is to be understanding, patient and loving. That is after all what a child needs most during a sensory meltdown.

1. Identify and remove sensory triggers

You’ve probably already identified stimuli which tend to trigger meltdowns for your child. For some children with special needs this can be a visit to the town pool or a ride on a crowded bus to camp. The important thing is to be aware of your child’s sensory sensitivities so you’ll be prepared to act should a meltdown occur. In addition, you’ll want to keep record of stimuli which make a meltdown worse. This could include loud noises or flashing lights. You may even find that talking to your child during a meltdown can exacerbate the symptoms.

2. Try distracting your child

This will only work if you spot the tell-tale signs of a meltdown before your child loses complete control. You can distract your child by doing anything which makes your child happy. The aim is to focus on something which is comforting but not over-stimulating. This could include something like making silly faces or singing your child’s favorite song.

3. Make your child feel safe

Your first priority during a meltdown is to remove any triggers. This may require you to switch off music or perhaps leave a store in search of a quieter, more soothing environment. You want to do everything you can to create a quiet, cozy space where your child will feel safe. One way to do this is to put up a tent somewhere quiet. While this will help your child calm down, it isn’t always an option. For those times when you can’t find a quiet place to soothe your child, you can simply cradle your child in your arms until they calm down. This may take time, but it should help keep them calm.

Parents need to remove dangerous objects when kids have meltdowns

4. Remove any dangerous objects

It’s important that you remove any objects from the vicinity which could harm your child. This includes everything from glass shelves to hard objects which your child may throw. It’s best to take your child to a room or space free of clutter and other people. However, it’s not enough to simply isolate your child. To prevent injury during a meltdown, you’ll need to monitor your child closely until they’ve calmed down completely.

5. Invest in a good weighted blanket

Weighted blankets can be very effective for children who have frequent meltdowns. These blankets apply mild pressure to the body, helping an anxious child calm down. In addition, the weights in the blankets help improve a child’s body awareness which can reduce the severity of the meltdown. Alternatively, weighted vests give similar calming sensory feedback, and are a great option for summer and travel.

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6. Carry a pair of noise-canceling headphones

For children who struggle with auditory stimuli, a pair of noise-canceling headphones are often a life-saver. They help reduce sensory overwhelm and can prevent the meltdown from getting out of hand.

An emergency kit can help a special child cop during a meltdown

7. Put together an emergency meltdown kit

Having an emergency kit can come in handy especially if your child tends to have meltdowns in public places. A well-stocked kit can help you defuse the situation and can make it easier to calm your child. Be sure to take this kit with you wherever you go so you’ll never be caught off guard. Ideally, you should tailor the kit to suit your child’s preferences. You can include things like your child’s favorite toy, a body sock, a heating pad, a handheld massage ball, or some aromatherapy oils.

8. Stay calm

It’s essential that you try to remain as calm as possible when your child has a meltdown. Any sudden movements or aggressive actions could be perceived as a threat by your child, triggering violent behavior. It’s best to talk in a soft, calm voice and to move as slowly as possible. Also, avoid any forceful behavior such as throwing your child to the ground.

9. Watch what your child eats

Food can be a potent trigger for children with sensory processing issues. Some parents resort to a gluten-free diet as they find this keeps their child calmer. If this seems too extreme, try limiting how much sugar you allow your child to consume. Carbohydrates and sugars tend to increase anxiety and anxiousness in children with autism spectrum disorder.

10. Never act without explaining

To prevent a meltdown from escalating, you need to keep your child as calm as possible. One of the best ways of doing this is by explaining what you’re going to do to your child before you do it. For example, you’d say something like: I want you to hold my hand for your safety. Regardless of whether your child is responsive, a calm explanation can help prevent any impulse reactions.

AngelSense for Extra Safety During Sensory Meltdowns

These are great tips for when your child is with you, but what happens when they are at school or with a therapist or caregiver. Sometimes the only person who knows what to do is the parent. AngelSense GPS for Autism, comes with an assistive speakerphone that answers automatically. If your child needs you they can simply press an SOS button on the device and you will get a notification to call them. This has helped many parents calm their children while on the school bus or whenever they aren’t physically present.

Children with autism who also have a wandering diagnosis can be triggered to run when they have a meltdown. To escape whatever it is that is causing them to get upset, they oftentimes take off without warning. AngelSense is the most accurate and reliable GPS Tracker for Kids to prevent wandering incidents and find your child as quickly as possible if they do wander. With advanced features like Continuous Real-Time GPS Monitoring, Lifesaving Intelligent iAlerts, Safe Ride School Bus Monitoring, Assistive Speakerphone with Listen In and 2 Way Voice, Emergency Search & Rescue Tools and much more, AngelSense is the clear choice for protecting your child with special needs!

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  1. Cheryl June 22, 2016 at 10:28 pm - Reply

    A sturdy bean bag chair is nice place to calm a child down.

  2. Robert Ruedisueli June 23, 2016 at 9:26 am - Reply

    One thing that is VERY important is to teach your child to use these techniques themselves without your help as well as with your help.

    Children with Autism become Adults with Autism and you need to teach them to deal with the problems.

    My parents did a very good job of teaching me the things needed for me to handle my Autism, and I hope to see more parents out there like them.

  3. Bridget Panzer June 23, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    MSG is a trigger. Instant panic attack. Doritos, Ranch dressing, Jonsonville meat pruducts, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Dips, etc. Monosodium Glutamate is in everything including vaccines.

  4. teresa June 24, 2016 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    One thing that I have noticed lately is touch therapy seems to sometimes work to destress my son’s meltdowns but all ASD kids are different and like different kind of touch for example my son likes when I lightly rub his arms and feet but my friends daughter who is also ASD likes more pressure on her back

  5. Paulette W. June 24, 2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    The last thing they want to hear is chatter. So when talking calmly, make sure it is brief statements. I think of it this way: imagine you are in a huge crowd, with so many people talking at the same time. There are lights flashing, horns honking, buzzers going off – it’s all overwhelming, right? Now, imagine someone pulling on your arm to get your attention, and wanting to ask you a question. Your mind is reeling and you can’t hear them. You want to shout to the heavens for everyone to just BE QUIET!!

    Now, this is exaggerated, but in the mind of a child with Autism, this is their reality at the point of a meltdown.
    Calm, quiet, brief, and highly understanding and patient, is what you MUST be.

    Thank you for this wonderful blog! Very awesome!

  6. LeighAnn Golomb Arcure June 25, 2016 at 2:35 am - Reply

    A lot of time I can calm my 9 year old by rubbing the palms of his hands in crowded places. I usually do have a bag of tricks. iPad. Leap pad. Snacks. But he had a bad reaction from a medicine he was on for awhile. We took him off and he has terrible muscle spasms from the bad medicine he was on. Waiting for his new anxiety medics to start working. He has bin getting very violent toward me. We had a doctor appointment today and then pharmacy pick up. I got my ass kicked for hours! I had forgot how bad medicTion changes can be! Ripping out my hair, clawing my face, head locks, and tearing my shirts off in public! Way to crazy and exhausting! Any ideas for me! I’m waking up feeling like I joined wrestle mania and lost several rounds! Everyday lately!

  7. Wanda June 25, 2016 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Mine is also deaf & other disorders & we are not very good at signing for one, he doesn’t understand reasons you would give him or instructions so it makes it even harder to handle both the meltdowns & tantrums, we can’t really take him into public places because it gets so bad, any ideas on that

  8. Lisa Collins June 25, 2016 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    Where can I buy the headphones and weighted blanket??

  9. jeanne peters June 25, 2016 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    just Thank you………. as a Grandmother and a lover of all things; children and creatures of every kind, my understanding all matters to nurture every situation in the best way possilbe is so important to me. thanks again and again! J Peters

  10. grace June 26, 2016 at 5:09 am - Reply

    My question is how do you remove triggers from the area when it’s your other children. Also if you are a parent who suffers from sensory overload how do you react calmly when your child causes you to feel overloaded?

  11. C Cooper June 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    Helpfu skills, informative explanations

  12. Sandy June 27, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    I bought noise canceling headphones for my daughter at an Armory/Shooting Range. At $25, they were much less expensive than the ones with sound and my daughter didn’t want white noise anyway.

  13. Michelle June 29, 2016 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    May I suggest that the abundance of additives and preservatives in today’s foods might be contributing to the problem as well?

  14. Donna June 30, 2016 at 1:19 am - Reply

    My 6 yr old grandson has not been officially diagnosed with autism, but we feel sure he is on the spectrum. It is hard to determine if these behaviors are due to autism or if it is a behavior issue: he gets upset if you tell him, “Good job!” or use other complementary phrases or if you applaud something he has done. He also will get upset or at least cover his ears if he is in a place where there is applause for others. What do you think?

  15. Monica June 30, 2016 at 5:17 am - Reply

    when holly has a meltdown,we sing all her favorite songs,not usually in the way they are sang,but how I sing them and how she likes them. and we play peek a boo and I hold her,and if all else fails we play relax melodies app on the phone which has light rain sounds and ocean wave sounds and piano and holly has went to sleep with the app on all night. she loves the calming sounds,and massage.

  16. Donnette June 30, 2016 at 7:00 am - Reply

    I find that offering my child squeezes or giving him squeezes help. Also showing him s sequence of boardman error icons. ( no cry, no acream, breathe, it’s ok) also providing pictures of things he can choose from like “space” “help”

  17. Patty June 30, 2016 at 8:37 am - Reply

    I had to laugh out loud at the part where it said :

    “Also, avoid any forceful behavior such as throwing your child to the ground.”

    I can see why that might not be helpful. 🙂

  18. Madeline Vincent June 30, 2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Thank u I enjoyed reading this gave me some tips.

  19. C. Adams June 30, 2016 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Synthetic food dyes, especially red 40, trigger my sons anxiety and meltdowns. Aldi Market has been a life saver in supplying many, many grocery choices that use natural dyes such as tumeric, beets, and parika. They have products like cereal, yogurt, marshmallows, jell-o, snacks and many more that do not have synthetic food dyes. Aldi also have many gluten free options.

  20. Andie June 30, 2016 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Love this article!!!

  21. Christine Sims July 1, 2016 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Riding in the car helps deactivate my daughter’s meltdowns. With or without music (in her case, she likes the radio on). The back seat of my car is her safe space. I’m going to invest in a weighted blanket.

    Also, it’s important to recognize the signs a meltdown is coming on. Take these signs seriously. They are like a volcano getting ready to erupt!

    And watch which foods may trigger a meltdown. What gets confusing is when sometimes a food has a certain reaction and other times not.

  22. Nancy July 1, 2016 at 2:51 am - Reply

    Very good info. My son is 28 and has autism. His “stressor” is my 8 1/2 yr old grandson. Any advice out there? Stressed iut

  23. Joseph July 1, 2016 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Thank you, with tears in my eyes
    I learned something new, as a grandparent who now interacts more this was excellent informstion.

  24. Peggy Liquori July 1, 2016 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    In the dietary hint you did not mention food dyes. They show up in the most unlikely places, such as red dye in some vanilla I’ve creams. My grandson is very sensitive to dyes.

  25. Betty beattie July 1, 2016 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    I have a 15 year old son that is nonverbal and on lots of meds to help his meltdowns and nothing seams to help also his nights&days r mixed up but most of all looking for ways of understanding why at school he has no problems with behavior but when he gets home it’s such a over load would any product that U have help me and him at all

  26. Elizabeth July 4, 2016 at 9:47 am - Reply

    My son is now 22 with severe si issues. 6’5″ and near 300lb. Yes,… With aggressive tendencies. While you can not control all situations, teaching a child to self monitoring overstimulation is a long lesson, but it will help them in life (not just the moment). First finding a safe zone..even if it is just closing their eyes. We found focusing on one thing helpful. Take a breath. Blow out your breath and give positive reinforcement. Do this BEFORE a full crisis. It gives them something to hold on too. Help them center their thoughts…distract if necessary..and refocus to safe focus. I.e. Breathing. ..then help move them into a safe environment that they know… Let them knowing they are OK. They are good. I am here… As noted earlier… You need to teach them long term skills…not just how to get through the current their life will be full of them if they don’t learn to self monitor. .. It is not easy…no one said having kids was suck it is up. They can do this. Hold your faith.

  27. Lynda Riddle July 11, 2016 at 6:53 am - Reply

    Great advice, Thank you.

  28. Michelle N. July 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Reading these comments really thows me back about 10 years ago when my son was first diagnosis. One thing i’d love to share is that O.T (OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY )and A.B.A (APPLIED BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS) was both life changing and time consuming but VERY VERY WORTH IT !
    We live in California so depending on where you live it may differ but seek therapies for age 3 and up to the school system for school life through an I.E.P (individual educational plan) as Autism is considered a learning disorder and for the time in school kids deserve to have what the law allows .
    Now for home life issues contact your insurance company to find out about these services. (May need to go through “mental health ” portion of insurance as my insurance laughed and daid that is not a medical coverage, but it really was ,and my son went without services for apprix 4 years) If you need to chosse one therapy over the other choose A.B.A. since this may incorporate types of o.t in it anyway.
    The company we used was called A.S.T. AUTISM SPECTRUM THERAPIES, they were wonderful ! They not only come in your home to provide services but they will also go on outings with you ! ?

    Always have a bit of patience with your kid, believe me I Know it is extremly difficult, but ABA is awesome and life changing. , they will teach you how to handle many diffrent senerios and how to recognize the things you wouldn’t even think are triggers.

  29. Michelle N. July 11, 2016 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    This is for Wanda ….
    Please look up pec ‘s which stands for PICTURE EDUCATION COMMUNICATION,
    I hope this helps. My child used this as part ofhis program for a few years while at an all Autism school he attended years back, and it was an amazing thing . We use to have some i printed off the Internet and bought a photo album with the little plastic inserts and that’s where we put the ones we printed out ,also you can take diffrent pictures of childs favorite blanket, cup, for example and that way when child wants that item they search thru the pictures and point out what they want . Now in your situation as not to hinder the process of learning to sign you can also sign along with pointing to what you want child to do , for example lay out the picture of clothes ,car and then the park in a row or even next to a number (helpful hint …we had applied velcro to the backs of the pecs and had a small clipboard with velcro) , to let the child know you will be going to the park with he/she may live but does not like dressing or car rides , so child knows to get dressed , get into car, and he/ she will be going to the park, and avoid a melt down over getting dressed it the car ride..
    I really do hope this all made sense and most of all that it helps someone 🙂

  30. Tracy July 12, 2016 at 1:10 am - Reply

    You can buy the headphones and weighted blanket on Amazon. some of the head phones have a case you can buy separate. Our son is going into middle school this August. Amazon is great. The head phones we are buying are $18.00, the case for them is $10.00?

  31. Amy July 12, 2016 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    For our 6 y/o we simply sit down quietly, close our eyes and open our arms. We have given her the tools in the last 4 years to recognize a meltdown and self manage her behaviors. Once she has gained some self control she needs deep pressure hugs to regulate and release endorphins so she will collapse into our arms and wait for “squishies”. Once we feel the tension abate we quietky discuss what set her off and what she thinks she needs to do next time to avoid it or how we can help her. Letting her guide our actions puts her in control and allows her to gain confidence in self regulation. This has been 4 long years of consistent quiet constructive intervention of us setting aside our own feelings and making her the priority

  32. Amy July 13, 2016 at 4:37 am - Reply

    When my son was small we had to wrap him in a blanket tight and just hold him talking softly to him. It was comforting enough to calm him down and keep him from hurting himself. When he got older I had to make sure he had quiet alone time everyday along with a high protein gluten free diet. He is now 18 and chewing gum is another way to calm him in stressful situations. He still can’t stand loud noises or big crowds but he can now deal with it and keep calm without having meltdowns anymore. The single most important piece of advise I give you is to be patient and loving toward them and it will be ok.

  33. Charles Kemp July 14, 2016 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    I have heard that you can distract your child with toys and other things. It would be helpful to be able to channel that focus into something that will make everything constructive. I like that you mention removing dangerous items. I think that is why you should get toys that are safe for them to play with.

  34. Mindy July 15, 2016 at 6:49 am - Reply

    We learned when my son was around 3 or 4 that he just needed physical comfort instead of justice with his siblings. At first we sort of had to force it and say things like “I’m sorry you got hurt” and hug him and help him know we were there comforting rather than getting onto the child that hurt him. It took some months and then he finally started coming to us for comfort instead of letting his anger get the best of him. He is now 9 and we
    Stil struggle when it comes to sibling fights if I am not there to catch it before it escalates but if I am it usually works and we quietly and calmly talk about it..

  35. Racquel July 17, 2016 at 12:40 am - Reply

    I have worked for years in our church nursery and I’ve had several Autistic children there. There are a few things to do that I did not read here. One, is to be on a routine. They don’t do as well with change. They need to expect what is happening next or day to day. You can create a picture calendar schedule so they know what is to be expected. You can also let them know what will be changing before it does. For instance, I would take kids to play outside. I would let the kids know that in 2 minutes we would be going outside. Then before getting ready to go inside I would let the child know in 5 minutes we would be going inside. Since they love being outside I would give them another notice on 3 minutes and in 1 minute. Also giving choices helps. Example, you can be upset in time out or you can calm down in 2 minutes and we can color a picture or another activity they like. Hope it helps some.

  36. Jen July 18, 2016 at 5:28 am - Reply

    Artificial food dyes are massive triggers for my son. He becomes violent and pretty much unconsolable. He goes from zero to 1000 in no time after he has had red dye 40 or yellow 6. I completely cut out all foods with artificial dyes in my house but occasionally the grandparents or friends parents will miss something and he is triggered. Most effective thing for him is to find a quiet place for just me and him, he will only allow me around him when he’s in a meltdown- usually just to hit me- but only me. I calmly talk to him and eventually the meltdown subsides and we just sit and cuddle. It is so frustrating that so many additives in food can cause so much distress to our children.

  37. Karen Jenkins July 18, 2016 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Great for all parents. I’ve seen many parents reacting badly to tots, children having sensory(or other) meltdowns in retail or other public places where catering to stimuli is part of sales pitch. Whether child has conditions or not, those little people have not developed attention spans, nor do some understand that they are really ‘aggitated’, why, or how to cope. I worked retail. I’m a Mom. Pre-shop ads and on-line first. Limit outings to an hour, and only go where you intend to buy, limiting to 15-20 mins. per store. Use exterior entrances when possible, rather than wading thru mall full of shoppers, stimuli. Go at earliest times, preferably weekdays. Take along another child-free adult who might stand in line, so you can step aside, until it’s your turn. It’s back-to-school shopping time ahead, so now’s the time to avoid the crowd.

  38. Kendall Everett July 19, 2016 at 12:36 am - Reply

    Carrying an emergency kit to defuse a meltdown is a great idea. Like you mentioned, including things such as toys that the child enjoys would be important. It may help to change it around every once in awhile so the child is always surprised by what is offered.

  39. Cynthia Bleyer July 19, 2016 at 4:39 am - Reply

    Wonderful pointers! Thank you AngelSense!

  40. Jennifer July 28, 2016 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    My grandson just turned 4 and has autism. ..I would love to learn all I can to understand autism and to help him…he does have breakdowns that I hate to see…I dont know what to do for him; I need all the info I can get on autism plz..thanks

  41. Mark G August 7, 2016 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I taught severely emotionally challenged students for over 25 years. One tactic I used very successfully during meltdowns is to approach the student cautiously and slowly,from the front – so he/she has a moment to visually notice that I’m approaching – getting as close to the same head-height as possible. For example, if the student is sitting on the floor, I will hunch over and try to engage his/her eye as I approach (the sense of someone taller approaching usually increases their anxiety.) If it looks a bit funny, so much the better – the child usually responds positively to the humorous gesture, or at least calms down enough to steady their gaze. As I get closer, I begin to whisper forcefully in “I” messages: “I’m glad you’re okay. I’m happy you’re safe. I’m glad you are here with me.” If they haven’t made eye contact yet, they often will when they hear whispering, or feel the air movement from the forceful whispering. This, plus the “I” messages, seem to be the key. The child often becomes quiet in order to hear what I’m saying. Overall, with all these things, I’m trying to communicate that “we’re sharing this difficult moment, and we’ll recover from it together.” However, if the child angrily or stubbornly turns away from my approach, I will back off for about 30 seconds, then start again from scratch.

  42. Patty Kinnard November 20, 2016 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Most of the comments I have read are very helpful and cover most meltdowns we’ve seen in our son. Just a couple of suggestions – We used a backpack with a few heavy books in it. Cheaper than a weighted blanket or vest. The only other thing I can say is to try to remember this, something our son’s Behavioral Pediatrician told us many years ago. Your home is your child’s safe place, where he/she knows that he can let go after holding it together all day. I know it’s not fun to feel like a punching bag, and trust me I’ve had many busted lips and headbutts, especially when he was young, but I always took some comfort in knowing that even when he melts down at his worst, he knows he is safe. I hope this helps some.

  43. Joy November 27, 2016 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    My son responds to deep pressure like a “sandwich” hug, which his Dad and I used to do with him, even solo, a deep hug for maybe a minute or two would enable him to calm down… we could literally feel the tension leaving his body! Also, lying on the floor, preferably on carpet with shoes off, and making “Snow Angels”… usually by the 2nd one he was visibly calmer and by the 5th one he was a noodle!

  44. Delerie Ausland November 27, 2016 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    I have a 14month old grandson. Who loves children learning channel. If you block vision, tries to look around you. Gets squeely if commercial comes on. Hits his head when he gets upset. Zones out when strangers are around, acts like he’s deaf. Loves to beat on chairs, buckets, anything noisy. Loves balls. He loves stuff with texture, he pets everything. Loves playing in sand, grass, leaves, dog food, picks up and let’s it run through his fingers. Far as I know, he’s not been diagnosed. When the mother was pregnant, she was told she had extra amniotic fluid around the baby. And told her he might be mongoloid. By looking at him, he looks normal. I’ve been with him since he was born. He was in a rocking bed, since day one, until he outgrew it. He lives to rock. Before he started walking, when you stood him up, he would rock back and forth on his feet. He just started walking a month ago.

  45. Bethany January 3, 2017 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    My sister and I babysit a child with autism (she is 22 and i am 14) and she is a special needs major. Whenever i am alone or she is alone with the child (we take turns) and they have a melt down, we always tell them what we are going to do (“I am going to put these noise cancelling headphones on you now”) then do what we like to call a swaddle. A swaddle is sitting down anywhere, putting the child in your lap, wrapping your legs around theirs lightly, which helps with bodily awareness and slightly constricts them, then crossing their arms across their chest, then wrapping your arms around them, which also helps with bodily awareness and slightly constricting them. We do this until the child has calmed down enough to talk about what happened (she has moderately high function autism) and why she had the meltdown.

  46. Monica January 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Any tips for an older child to help diffuse him/herself, i.e. for a stressful situation at school? Long story short version–my son has had some really awful teachers that have left him with some trauma issues…

  47. Sandy January 9, 2017 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    The article and comments are great. As a substitute teacher I never do the behavior chart. If the students act up they count to 10 or 100 depending on their age at recess and then go play. They are on the honor system and that has worked for me for 25 years. It worked when I taught K-1 as well. Also we sing for transitions and clean up. My son died at 37 and I don’t think I ever got behaviors right. God bless you all. You and your kids are what makes this world go round!

  48. Jennifer Mileski January 27, 2017 at 4:26 am - Reply

    Over time, an autistic child can be desensitized to sensory triggers. My son, seventeen and severely autistic, would freak out (when he was young) every time we turned on the dishwasher. We started slow, turning the dishwasher on for a minute at a time for a couple Then two minutes. Then five. Then ten. We got him to start helping us load it and let him turn it on. That really worked because he had control of the situation. After about six months, we could put it through the whole cycle with no problems. He even got to where he liked the dishwasher.

  49. Jennifer Mileski January 27, 2017 at 4:28 am - Reply

    Sorry, I meant for a couple of days.

  50. Gina April 10, 2017 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    A sensory room!! If your child’s school doesn’t have one, GET ON THEM. My son’s school just had one built. My son will go in there and self calm. I know parents who have turned a room in to their home in to a sensory room or even just an area of there house. Its a life saver for us.

    • Sidra @ AngelSense April 12, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

      Great tip! I would love if my son’s school had a sensory room!

  51. Alexis S April 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Been reading allot About how to deal with behavior and meltdowns for my son’s who is 5 with mild autism. He is fairly well behaved and follows directions pretty well which I’m proud of. However for some time now he seems to have anxiety and yells and screams when he’s frustrated. He especially has a hard time when we are out for example at a theme park and has to wait in line. He gets very impatient and has a meltdown after a few minutes. He hasn’t learned the concept of waiting your turn and this frustrates him very much. Once he’s in his meltdown it seems there’s not much I can do to console or get him out of it. Reading has helped me out somewhat. Work in progress.

  52. Patti L Starkey April 19, 2017 at 6:23 am - Reply

    Good comments here to help me out.I deal with behaviors at school with students who aren’t my own family but the love and patience is the key!!

  53. kat May 25, 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    A doctors note works at Disney as you take it to guest services just when you enter the park. You then get a time ticket at the ride for when to return and do not wait in line. I ask at all parks for a accommodation for handicapped children. Also a weighted snake helps or a weighted vest or back pack. I carry small toys, iPad, cards, paint sets, snacks etc to reinforce good behavior. Talk in short sentences, give a time to explain what you are doing and what comes next so the child has time to prepare. Give plenty of time to rest and be calm even if you need to just sit in the car for quiet time or a break. If all else fails go home and chill out. We have a safe large fenced yard to play and run around in. A folding wagon also helps with smaller kids that do not care to walk when they are tired. You can tent it for quiet time. You can order vest and snakes on line at Fun and Function. they will send you a catalog.full of great things !!

  54. marolyn baker July 3, 2017 at 5:21 am - Reply

    I have a wonderful caring grandson and nephew with sensory ty I will take this into help and love dearly ty again

  55. Jen whitney July 3, 2017 at 5:37 am - Reply

    When needing a child to do something, like hand holding I avoid “I” statements. Instead of saying “I need you to hold my hand” I make it something the child needs to do ” YOU need to hold my hand to be safe”

    • Sidra @ AngelSense July 3, 2017 at 2:05 pm - Reply

      Great tip! Thanks for sharing Jen!

  56. Cindy July 4, 2017 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    My granddaughter is also blind non verbal 10 year old just now getting her to stick to schedual which helps a lot but public places she just hits scratches bites herself We have weighted vest and head phones doesn’t seem to help don’t want to keep her at home all the time but her room is her safe place here in Oklahoma we don’t have certified caregivers teachers act scared when she is calm she is such a happy girl.

  57. Nelida July 5, 2017 at 3:34 am - Reply

    Natural calm magnesium drink can be purchased at CVS and helps calm and headache. Potsaaium rich foods help also . A banana or potatoes.

  58. Martim Oliveira December 19, 2019 at 6:38 am - Reply

    I use CBD oil and it helps me a lot. There’s research proving that the use of the CBD compound in autistic people reduces the symptoms. Look it up

  59. Laura December 29, 2019 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    If it is something out of even your control having a social story of some kind can help. One time when we were flying we had an unexpected layover due to weather. My son who normally isn’t a wanderer panicked and started running out the airport. After stopping him I related the situation to the Toystory plot. What happened when Woody and Buzz got left behind? What did they do next? He was able to calm down enough and turn it into his own movie adventure.

  60. Kathy March 11, 2020 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Donna… it sounds like you need to get him checked until you find a doctor that realizes he is on the spextrum… my grandbaby is and he does the same thing… hes gotten better about some things, but it changes fast from one thing to others…

  61. Sarah Van May 11, 2020 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    thank you for the helpful article

  62. Karen Gomez November 3, 2020 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    l’ve work with children with speacial needs and is very helpful.

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