Emotional Meltdowns and Autism: Working Through Tantrums

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It is normal for teens to have ups and downs. These ups and downs are often onset by hormonal changes during puberty. However, autism can bring about more challenges to the adolescent years. Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can experience more severe and more frequent mood changes than other developing teenagers. This can result in emotional meltdowns in public or private. As a parent, these meltdowns can make you feel overwhelmed, hopeless, and like you have no control. That’s okay. Learning how to understand and best help your child work through these situations is the most important thing you can do.

What causes emotional meltdowns and tantrums in teens on the spectrum?

Problematic behavior such as tantrums, aggression, and violence may progressively get worse overtime. Signs of these behaviors could include crankiness, crying, screaming, fidgeting, or excessive giggling. During meltdowns, they will suddenly have an extremely difficult time focusing or keeping in tune with reality. These tantrums are usually a result of the following:

  1. The teen with ASD is having difficulty identifying what emotion they are feeling
  2. They don’t know how to manage their emotions
  3. They don’t know how to otherwise express their emotions

Getting a Grip

Emotion control can be taught at home. You are your teen’s influencer. If you set an example and are intentional in helping them identify with their emotions, you will notice they will improve their self-management skills.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Name emotions. For example, if they are angry, say “you seem angry.” They will then be able to identify that their feelings are associated with anger.
  • Encourage your child pause and breathe. This is a way to incorporate easy coping methods. It is important that they know that stepping back from a situation and not having a reaction is okay.
  • Make it clear that emotions are okay, it’s how they handle them that determine the situational outcome as a whole.

New Focus Academy can help

New Focus Academy is a residential treatment center for boys ages 12-18 who struggle with autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders. The mission of the program is to use positive reinforcement to increase the student’s self-esteem and independence. The skills they learn at New Focus will help them learn to have positive social interaction, organization, and a clear sense of judgement. Students are given the opportunity to gain the confidence they need to foster and maintain healthy relationships and lifestyle habits. We can help your family today!

Contact us at (844) 313-6749