Meltdown, tantrum or bad behaviour?

Tantrums. Meltdowns. Bad behaviour.
All the same thing?
Is Autism an excuse for bad behaviour?
Of course not.
There are still alot of people who think this.
Still so many people who judge when a child is having a meltdown in a supermarket.
There is though, sometimes, an overlap.

Autistic children can be naughty.
Of course they can.
They are still children…this we must never forget.
They still have to learn boundries, learn right from wrong.
They will still push the boundaries.
They won’t learn these things unless they exhibit the behaviour first.

What is difficult to tell sometimes is if the meltdown is infact Autism related or a tantrum.
There is a difference….to those who understand.
To a casual onlooker this may not be apparent.
To anyone who has dealt with a child on the spectrum, they will know the difference.

A tantrum is a power game.
The child exhibiting a behaviour in order to fulfill a want.
The child searches for attention, wants people to see. Acts on response given.
As soon as the child gets the result it wanted, the tantrum is over.
They have manipulated the situation to get the result they desired.

A meltdown is a total loss of behaviour control.
It may start with a want but will not be resolved by giving them what triggered the meltdown.
The loss of control overtakes the child.
There is no reasoning with them.
Talking, shouting, nothing will help; in fact it may just add to the sensory overload and make things worse.
If everyone walked away and left the child they would carry on, it is not a manipulation tool.
They are not doing it to gain attention.
They need the caregiver there to help them regain composure.
Sometimes this may be restraint, or heavy hugs, silence; until the extreme feelings pass and calm starts to creep back.
This can take time. It is a slow process.
Meltdowns are loud, frightening, unpredictable… is the childs cry for help.

There is a great difference between a meltdown and a tantrum.
On first impressions they may look the same but a meltdown is so incredibly complicated and unpredictable.
Both, however, can be dealt with much the same method.
Keeping calm, ensuring the child knows who is in control….easier said than done.
Distraction is a good technique to use if you can see the build up of a meltdown, sometimes there is just nothing you can do as a meltdown comes from out of the blue.

Learning to choose your battles is a skill I have had to learn.
So, so much patience!
SO much patience!!
You will not always suceed.
Sometimes there just is no way to defuse the meltdown however hard you try.
You just have to go with the flow and keep the child, yourself, and all around them safe until it passes.
Sometimes it is over in a matter of minutes, some can rumble on for hours.

Tantrums usually happen in childhood up to the ages of 5-6.
Meltdowns are a lifelong issue.

A child on the Autism Spectrum may learn to manage his/her feelings as they get older and learn from themselves when it may happen.
They may pick up on triggers, feelings, things that may arise before they lose control.
Until then, us caregivers have to play detective and wade through this Autism rainbow.
Learning new triggers and tricks of the trade to ensure we can be there for our children when they need us most.

Meltdowns will happen.
That is something I am sure about.
On its’ vast spectrum, it is the only definate aspect of Autism I can confirm.


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