16 Simple Ways to "Prevent" Meltdowns in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"Is there a way for parents of children with ASD to prevent meltdowns from happening in the first place? I ask because once my autistic son (level 1) gets up a head of steam, there's no way of getting him to calm down."

It is much easier to prevent meltdowns than it is to manage them once they have erupted.

Here are 16 tips for preventing meltdowns and some things parents can say to their high-functioning autistic children:


1. When visiting new places or unfamiliar people explain to the youngster beforehand what to expect. Say, “Stay with your assigned buddy in the museum.”

2. Signal kids on the autism spectrum before you reach the end of an activity so that they can get prepared for the transition. Say, “When the timer goes off 5 minutes from now it will be time to turn off the TV and go to bed.”

3. Reward them for positive attention rather than negative attention. During situations when they are prone to meltdowns, catch them when they are being good and say such things as, “Nice job sharing with your friend.”

4. Provide pre-academic, behavioral, and social challenges that are at the youngster’s developmental level so that the youngster does not become frustrated.

5. Make sure that kids on the spectrum are well rested and fed in situations in which a meltdown is a likely possibility. Say, “Supper is almost ready, here’s a cracker for now.”

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

6. Keep off-limit objects out of sight and therefore out of mind. In an art activity keep the scissors out of reach if kids are not ready to use them safely.

7. Keep a sense of humor to divert the youngster’s attention and surprise the youngster out of the meltdown.

8. Increase your tolerance level. Are you available to meet the youngster’s reasonable needs? Evaluate how many times you say, “No.” Avoid fighting over minor things.

9. Give them control over little things whenever possible by giving choices. A little bit of power given to the youngster can stave off the big power struggles later. “Which do you want to do first, brush your teeth or put on your pajamas?”

10. Establish routines and traditions that add structure. For teachers, start class with a sharing time and opportunity for interaction.

11. Do not ask them to do something when they must do what you ask. Do not ask, “Would you like to eat now?” Say, “It’s suppertime now.”

12. Distract them by redirection to another activity when they begin to meltdown over something they should not do or cannot have. Say, “Let’s read a book together.”

13. Create a safe environment that kids can explore without getting into trouble. Childproof your home or classroom so kids can explore safely.

14. Choose your battles. Teach these "special needs" children how to make a request without a meltdown and then honor the request. Say, “Try asking for that toy nicely and I’ll get it for you.”

15. Change environments, thus removing the youngster from the source of the meltdown. Say, “Let’s go for a walk.”

16. Avoid boredom. Say, “You have been working for a long time. Let’s take a break and do something fun.”




Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 

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