People may think children with autism do not have emotions. This is patently untrue, they just have a different way of showing them, and will need care in helping to deal with them. When things go wrong, they hit them far harder than they would a neuro-typical child.
It’s a difficult topic, and extremely challenging for the parents, as while a tantrum for a typical child is over relatively quickly, in an autistic child, it takes them longer to deal with.
There are a few key things to bare in mind.
- Depending on the age of the child, it’s worth reminding them that when emotions are like a rainstorm, which will pass by, the sun will always come out again, drying away the rain. Help your child to concentrate on their breathing during this.
- Try to focus the child on something different – perhaps a toy, ideally one with a level of sensory input, be it light, sound or touch. This will help by removing his mind from the initial cause of the upset.
- Learn to recognise the signs leading up to a tantrum.. If possible, distract before it can get to this point. While I say this, it’s important to realise in your own mind, that you will not be able to do this throughout the child’s life. They will need to learn to regulate and find ways to calm themselves, however anything you can do to help them in this is excellent.
- While in calmer times, it’s worth talking about tantrums, and ways to mitigate this. Perhaps by taking things in smaller steps, or by having some alone time away from the potential upset.
The main thing to do, is to not get upset yourself. You will work through this by being there for your child, not by becoming emotional yourself, in fact this is self-defeating, and will in many cases make the tantrum worse as they’ll be able to sense it.