Tag Archives: tantrums

Understanding Autism Behavior

A child who has autism can be quite a handful to parents, teachers, and to caregivers. One’s patience can be tested over and over again especially when one lacks knowledge about the symptoms. A person living with a child on the spectrum requires hands-on knowledge and understanding about Autism’s complexities and intricacies to better handle the situation and to easily navigate through the complex maze of developmental needs and interventions required to address a child-with-autism’s needs.

For parents who are battling this dilemma for the first time, it is important to know some of the unique behavioral characteristics that individuals with autism usually manifest. Though behavioral symptoms can vary by severity, age, and intervention level applied, these behavioral characteristics are often present separately or sometimes as a cluster:

Ritual and Routine

Children with autism easily get upset when their routine is interrupted, or when an object of their attention is taken away. Most, if not all, children with autism have specific ritual that involves mastering a specific skill as a way for them to feel at ease and secure in a given condition. Most also adheres to specific timeframe when addressing their needs.

Temper Tantrums or Meltdowns

It is “normal” for children living in the spectrum to display violent or destructive behavior. Some children may even injure themselves or others. They can also be uncontrollable physically and may start shaking violently. Some would seethe in anger and can keep still on the said condition over time. Though a “normal” manifestation, temper tantrums can be prevented when handled carefully. Behavioral interventions are often used as a therapy to kids with autism to prevent such meltdowns from happening.

Stereotyped, Repetitive, and Irregular Body Movements

Open display of irregular or stereotyped body movements is a common trait among children with autism. These movements are often involuntary, that is, they do not have any control over these movements. Children with autism are unaware of this manifestation. Often, these movements are displayed when nervous or when they are upset. Repetitive movements, on the other hand, are common denominator among individuals with autism. These movements usually deliver a sense of security and calming effect to them. Some of the most common irregular, stereotyped, and repetitive movements are fidgeting, tapping, rocking, grimacing, hand flapping and wringing, spasms, hopping/skipping, shrugging, and even mimicking other people’s actions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior

Obsession is another common trait among children, teens, and even adults with autism. This could be over objects, subjective areas of interest, or certain themes. The problem with this “fixation” often affects behavior leading to compulsive actions. Children, for instance, can be fixated on an object like a toy, taking them apart, and then fixing them again closely observing how it works. Do take note that this so-called “fixation” encompasses certain intensity of focus but can also come to an end.

Oppositional Behavior

Children or teens on the spectrum may also scream, kick, or manifest unruly behavior when parents or caregiver remove him from a comfortable environment. All things and environment unfamiliar to a child with autism often draw out an oppositional behavior from them. This could be due to extreme anxiety, fear or sometimes anger from being uprooted from his fixation or comfortable environment. Parents who often encounter this problem may seek intervention by learning how to coach their child on how to adapt to new locations, situations or experiences

How to Manage Autism Meltdowns

There is no boring day to parents with autism kids. The worst days, however, are those that involve a meltdown. Now, that’s what you call a nightmare! One moment your child is perfectly settled on his routine and the next minute, he turns into a Godzilla with no one to block his path. The scary part is that, you have no idea what upsets him or what triggered the reaction.

Not to be confused for temper tantrums, meltdowns can easily turn from bad to worse when parents do not know what to do or how to deal with it. This could be tough to a first-time parent. Thus, equipping oneself with the necessary preparation for that eventual meltdown will help prevent unnecessary circumstances inimical to the welfare of the child and the people surrounding him.

Dissecting Likely Causes

Not to be mistaken for a temper tantrum, children with autism when facing a meltdown can be much tougher to handle. One of most likely causes is sensory, information, and emotional overload. Take note of the word: OVERLOAD. Kids with ASD can only take so much and all things in excess can push their panic button. This overly sensitive characteristics usually trigger their brain to be overwhelmed resulting in panic.  Another common cause is sudden changes. Living in the spectrum often makes children live a life filled with routines. They love basking in a life that is filled with predictability. Sudden changes in their environment or in their expectations can easily jolt and tear them apart. Some parents also mentioned that fatigue is another likely cause in some children’s meltdown. As the brain cannot process fatigue or its consequences, this can be intensely frustrating leading to turmoil deep in their core.

Preventing and Managing Meltdowns

As meltdowns can come and go freely to any child with autism, it is imperative for parents to proactively learn how to handle and manage such before it even manifests in actuality. You can discuss management techniques with your paediatrician, caregiver, SpEd teacher, or counselor to give you handy information on how to best approach when this occurs. Be sensitive to their needs. Many said that parents to kids with autism need special powers to know when and what causes a meltdown. Paying special attention to your child won’t hurt. Keeping a timetable and be always on the close guard on what makes them comfortable/uncomfortable to prevent frustration leading to panic.

It is also important to set boundaries with your child. In the same way as toddlers, children living on the spectrum often have meltdowns because they can’t have their own way. If you believe the answer is a “no”, be firm and stand by it. You can choose to ignore it, redirect him to another activity, or infuse discipline by way of simple “punishments” like timeouts or withholding of special treats. Most kids living on the spectrum have high intelligence level. They do understand more than you expect them to be.

Some children, however, are prone to hurting themselves or those around them. Learn the proper way to restrain them and make sure to eliminate possible hazards in your home. You might be surprised how strong or violent these little kids can be up until you have a blackened eye or a bruised leg. For their safety and yours, learn how to address possible hazards ahead of time.