Coping with meltdowns -

Coping with meltdowns

I’m really struggling with Gavin and these meltdowns.  They happen anytime he is held accountable for his actions. I’m to the point where I feel like I have to choose between disciplining Gavin and putting the entire Lost and Tired family through one of his meltdowns.

Tonight was no exception.

Gavin went into the kitchen and on his way he just shoved his way through those of us standing there and he almost stepped on the puppy.

I pulled him aside to talk to him about what he did and why he shouldn’t do that.  He basically ignored me because he was to worried about getting back and watching TV.  So as he blew me off and went back upstairs,  I told him that he was to go shut his TV off.

That’s all it took to send him stomping up the stairs and into his room.  He was literally shaking the ceiling with each successive slam of each foot into the floor.

I called him down and told him that he was going to have oatmeal.  That is the only thing that works with him. It’s a very long story that if you have been following me for awhile,  you likely already know.

My whole point with talking to Gavin was to help him understand that he has to pay attention to what’s going on around him.  He can’t just shoved his way through people like they aren’t there. He needs to learn these things and it’s my job to teach it to him.  Lucky me…

Anyway,  he launched into a meltdown that sent Elliott and Emmett scrambling for safety.

I’m so sick of having to go through this every time Gavin is held accountable for his actions.  He is starting to self-injure again and that can’t be allowed to continue.  I’m not sure what to do about this but I do know that Gavin cannot be allowed to dictate what happens through his behaviors.

This is a longer video than I would normally post.  The reason I did this is because I want people to see what a meltdown can be like.  I also want to share how I manage situations like this.  I don’t always say or do the right thing in these situations but there aren’t any instructions and no one to guide you through.

[youtube width=”720″ height=”480″][/youtube]

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Having a safe area where he can be "ignored" but you can watch for dangers can work

Teaching him skills to self regulate Or first teach him how to know how is feeling. Look up the incredible 5 point scale. Make one for him. Even if it is more than 5 points. Lable emotions. Happy. Sad. Angry. Levels of upset. Explain how it feels. What makes him feel that way and how he can work on it before the melt down begins.

Go to him often. Lable and read it to him.
You are happy. (and why he is happy)

Or you are sad. Angry. Upset. Frustrated. Emergency.

Not sure if you've tried 5 point scale before.


I notice that my comment was removed. I apologize if I was offensive. That honestly was not my intent. Also, it was probably entirely too long.


I would like to second Megan Kitchen–have you tried creating a "safe room" for him and letting him go in there to calm down? While still monitoring of course, but not having him aware? All the meltdowns i've heard you describe, you have been there, and I was just wondering if you've tried that. Good luck!

Megan Kitchen

Some random thoughts as I read this… could the stomping be a sensory need when he is upset? I will also second Justareader who pointed out that stomping up the stairs and shaking the house is not uncommon for any tween. I can remember doing it so hard the banister would shake at that age. The other thing I was thinking about is is Gavin looking for an audience. It seems like when he is melting down you are in constant attendance, what happens if you leave him alone when its going on. We stripped everything but the bed, a table, and the toy chest out of our son's room and found that if we just make him go in there, with the door shut, then the meltdowns calm down quicker. No audience, no reason to carry on.

Megan Kitchen

Some random thoughts as I read this… could the stomping be a sensory need when he is upset? I will also second Justareader who pointed out that stomping up the stairs and shaking the house is not uncommon for any tween. I can remember doing it so hard the banister would shake at that age.

The other thought I had was something we have found to be true of our own son. Meltdowns at least half the time are for the benefit of an audience, once that audience is gone, the meltdown scales back considerably. For a while all that was in Soren's room was his bed, his toy chest and a table (all too big for him to move). we put him in his room, shut the door, and let him scream, cry, ect. For a while he tried self injuring to get our attention (hitting his arm, knee or head against the wall) but I had learned what his "I'm hurt" scream was, and if that didn't sound, then I just ignored it. Since doing that consistently, the length and frequency of meltdowns have significantly gone down. no audience=no reason to go into full blown meltdown and just cry and be upset, but at a more manageable decibel.

Maria Hall

My oldest also had meltdowns when confronted. Huge ones. Far more violent than what you are describing. If you have not read it yet, look for Brenda Smith Myles book about Aspergers and meltdowns. Google her name and it will come up in Amozon. Great book. You may also want to read the Explosive Child if you have not read it yet. Another great resource (wish I had read it sooner). Ross Green wrote that one (the book he wrote called Lost in School is a sequel to this as I understand it, and also is an excellent read that offers a lot of great ideas on how to help your kid learn appropriate skills). Blessings to you today, I know it is hard to deal with….been walking that path and it is not for the faint of heart.


I know that this has to be extremely frustrated…but I am glad that he gets to EXPRESS it. I never melted down. I would feel the urge…I WANTED to scream to hit someone, something, or myself but I knew how that would end. I spent (and still spend) so much of my time holding everything in to look "normal". And this isnt even really for being out in public. This is just in my own home. My home is not, and has never been, a safe place for me to just…be. To feel. I understand how he feels when he is saying he wishes he could stop making bad choices. I felt like that. I still do. Only, because of the way I was perceived at home and reacted to, I phrased it differently. "I wish I wasn't such an idiot/moron/retard!" I wasn't even allowed to show anger…that is disrespectful, apparently to feel anger. I realize that hearing your kid say "I don't like myself" is probably upsetting but (and please dont get angry!) just saying something like "we don't say that here" seems kind of invalidating. Maybe you should try to talk to him about it at a time when he is not melting down. Or telling him that he shouldn't hate himself. That he doesn't deserve to be hated by ANYONE, least of all himself. I can understand those feelings of self loathing…being out on control and HATING that. Desperately wanted to be able to do what is expected of you. I'm not saying that you never talk to him. I am not there, I cannot say either way. I just feel the need to say that…no one ever listened to me. No one was ever willing to talk to me about anything. I hated myself (and still do a pretty large percentage of the time), I was angry, and frustrated, and upset and I never got to get it out or talk to anyone or…anything. I started cutting when I was 8 as a coping mechanism. A quiet way to get it out and not bother anyone. I am not saying that he will, just that…I dunno. Screaming seems like a lesser evil. Screaming can be cathartic. Stomping and slamming a door, too. Yeah, it is loud and annoying and not cool, but plenty of non autistic kids do that. I'm rambling…basically, blowing off steam by screaming or stomping is better than self injury and you should probably sit down and try to talk to him about why he hates himself if you aren't already.

just a reader

You have mentioned a lot lately how Gavin has been the only one listening. Do you ever reward him for listening to instructions? That way during a meltdown you can remind him of things he got to do on good behavior.

Also I know you don't have any kids not on the spectrum. just to let you know the stomping/causing the entire ceiling to shake is very typical adolescent behavior. I used to do it all the time growing up along with slamming doors when being sent to time out. It was a way of blowing off steam. I just wanted to let you know as I was/am not on the spectrum but still did those same actions.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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