3 Common Reasons Why Children with Autism Have Meltdowns

Learn the three most common reasons that children with autism have meltdowns from pediatrician Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.

Transcript

So what are the common causes of meltdowns in children with autism? Well, various triggers, and we know based on the diagnosis of autism, these kids have sensory sensitivities, have difficulty with rigidity and routine. You have to look at some of these areas, as whether there's been a noise that's been bothering them, for example the vacuum cleaner for example or I had a child who was covering his ears and running around the playground suddenly because he was hearing the sound of an airplane flying in the sky before the parents could actually see it. So sometimes you don't quite know what the trigger is and it's a matter of being a detective. But if you know your child has sensory issues or auditory issues, be prepared when you go out to malls and noisy places, because that can definitely be a trigger for a meltdown.

A lot of these children have a sensory regulation issue so when overloaded by activity and sound, or if their tired, or hungry and sleepy they're more likely to have meltdowns. So what they could tolerate otherwise they're less likely to tolerate. Frustration, not being able to communicate your needs, and not having the language, can cause a meltdown. Well, common meltdowns could be because you're not getting what you want, and that's OK. That's when limits need to be set and kids can be transitioned and prepared and those meltdowns need to be handled. But if it's a meltdown for a reason you don't understand, you need to be a bit of a detective to try and figure it out. And knowing your child, what the issue is, what is their particular concern for example, whether it's clothing for example, the label at the back of a shirt.

Some kids for example have gluten sensitivity and having had gluten or diary added to their diet, in a hidden formula for example, parents have reported back to me that, "My goodness, I noticed a change in behavior." Or the child became more upset more easily and had more tantrums and meltdowns. So going backwards, but also dealing with it in the moment so that the child does not hurt themselves or hurt anybody else with their meltdown. But going back and really investigating, or finding out what your child needs, to prevent the triggers what stimulates this upset behavior is very important.

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