#Autism and coping with imperfection: The crinkly cup meltdown

I took Emmett with me today to refill our 5 gallon water jugs.  While we were there, Emmett got a drink from the water cooler. They had paper cups and Emmett thought that was really cool.

However, things went downhill rapidly when he realized that his paper cup became crinkly when it got wet.

It was no longer perfect and he melted down as a result. 


He was so upset and it went on for over an hour.  I feel so bad for him because he just can’t cope with things being imperfect.  We try so hard to work with him on these issues but only on the rarest of occasions does it actually help and today was not one of those occasions.

This is one of the toughest part of Autism for him, at least at this point. 

Do your kids cope with imperfection or does it lead to a meltdown? Have you found a way to help your child through this?

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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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My son does not deal with imperfection very well either. He is a def. rule follower and thins are supposed to be a certain way. When things are not that way he has a very hard time dealing.If you have suggestions please advise. He will be doing the most simple thing like riding his trike around the driveway. My daughter will stop and it will cause a melt down. He will get up and scream and there is no turning back. It’s totally all because he was having a good time and she made it stop. It has no impact on it if she keeps riding at that point.


Have you ever tried to work on changing his thinking to how imperfections are actually a good thing?  I like things to be “just that certain way” but what helped me a lot was this story that’s become a favorite of mine.  Whenever something isn’t to my liking, I try to look at it from the story’s point of view.  Maybe it could help Emmett too?
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
“I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”
The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?”
“That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.”
“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.
Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.


What.that story very hard to understand my meltdown would be bad just trying to understand it it very hard circus to deal with these thing


I. Had. Ton of sencorey the thephy an ot


Why are you buying water when your gas has been turned off?  You need to prioritize your expenses.  There is nothing wrong with drinking city water.


@Annoymous I’m so grateful that you take the time out of your busy day, to share with me your pearls of wisdom.  My day isn’t complete until you point out what you feel I’m doing wrong or how I’m failing my family.


Where I live. There is an artesian spring where we take our water jugs to refill. Its FREE and much better than city water. Don’t judge unless you’ve walked a mile.


@Annoymous Why are you still here? Go take a long walk off a short pier or something, take your soap box with you.


@Annoymous I don’t know where Rob lives, but where I live the water that comes out of the tap is sometimes practically undrinkable. It has sulphur in it. Sometimes you actually see a black streak right in the middle of the water flow. Of course it won’t kill you but no one wants to drink black water and it tastes terrible.


MeaghanGood well said.  The other point is that I spent $5 on 15 gallons of purified water for my family. The gas if is over $500. $5 for drinking water doesn’t make or break the situation.


lostandtired MeaghanGood Yeah, my boyfriend also buys those huge jugs of water and has a water cooler at home. I know they’re very cheap.


MeaghanGood lostandtired we simply refill ours when they are empty.  It’s really cheap and the boys drink more water this way.


lostandtired MeaghanGood Much more sensible than those people that go to the gas station and pay $1.50 for a 20oz of water.


What a very educational site!  A young relative of mine is autistic, and this helps to understand.  She cannot bear changes in any expected routine.  Thank you!


SunriseGuidedVi well thank you very much. 🙂


My girl would lose her mind if anything splashed or spilled, or if anyone/anything bumped her glasses. There was no way to stop or end her epic meltdowns at that point. They lasted as long as they did. Poor babe. In the end, we can’t make them not be who they are, not care about what they care about. In many other cases, upset over other things, we were taught to intervene, to shorten the meltdown by redirecting her thoughts with behavioural intervention. We could lead her to do silly things, perform some tasks very quickly we ask her to do to prove that she could still listen, was still in control of herself even though she was upset, and that she was a very capable girl. Then praise her to the heavens for doing what we asked and reward her with something she likes. It’s called behavioural therapy and it’s a very effective technique. It takes time and patience, and the higher functioning kids catch on often and can start to do it themselves when they get upset. It’s very cool to see it in action. Doesn’t work in every situation, of course. Nothing does. But I wanted you to know there’s hope. There are ways.


Steph204 I appreciate it.  You’re  absolutely right. There’s always hope.  🙂


i still get wicked upset if my roiyin or plan get change last min an i hate getting my clothes wet in the rain make me nuts .even though i over come alot there are things that can send me as my family an friends say a leavl 6 meltdown witch is no fun an bad for ever one .i dont no like if in his therhys they can do stuff every day do something to have mess uop so he realize it ok


autti34 I totally appreciate your insight.  Emmett is the same way.  A single drop of water on his shirt and off it comes.  He’s made progress but it’s really hard on him and the rest of us as well.  
Thank you so much for sharing.  🙂