How to Deal with Autistic Tantrums

Caring for a child who has autism is a difficult challenge. Never-mind dealing with social and communication barriers, these children often will throw tantrums, no matter the age of the child. While you can’t always prevent these tantrums, you can learn to equip yourself so that you can be better prepared to deal with them.


  • 1

    Make sure to be attuned to their needs. Sometimes the tantrum is a result of their frustration at the unablility of communitcating their needs properly. Pay special attention to the child, especially if you think they are trying to convey something to you, and be patient in trying to figure out what he needs or wants.

  • 2

    Like toddlers, sometimes children with autism will have extreme tantrums also known as meltdowns simply because they can’t have what they want. Try your hardest to not give into these tantrums just to keep the child calm. If you are aware of what the child wants, and the answer is still no, let that stay the answer. A lot of times, children with autism are unaware of  their boundaries, and they will often throw a tantrums or meltdowns because they do not understand why they can’t have or do something. Don’t give in as a result of the tantrum, by giving in you are allowing the child to understand this is how to get their way.

  • 3

    Do not pay mind to the tantrum. This is not always reasonable, but sometimes you want to not reward  negative behavior with your attention. As long as the child is not being self injurious or hurting others, act as if you don’t even see them. Most likely, they will notice that their behavior is not getting attention and the tantrum/meltdown will cease.

  • 4

    Restrain when necessary. If the child is is being self injurious, hurting you or others, you may have to restrain them. Get in a position where you are behind them and hold their arms close to their body so that they can’t swing out or throw things. There may be times, you may have to hold their legs also, which will require the use of your legs. Remember that strength increases with rage, so this may take a lot of strength. Speak to a ABA Therapist who works with autistic children so that she can help you learn new techniques of holding the child without hurting the child or yourself.

  • 5

    Redirect the child if possible. Try to gain the child’s attention to a different activity that they enjoy. Bubbles are normally a universal redirection tool.

  • 6

    Don’t be afraid to punish. Autistic children are very intelligent, and although they process their thoughts differently, they do comphrend when they are being punished. Although these punishments may require unusual techniques, they are still sometimes a necessary discipline.

To read a mom’s story about herself and autistic child, please visit here. You may comment and speak with the mom.

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  1. Great article, I am sure that many will find it to be very helpful. Redirection always seems to work well and discipline is needed for all children regardless.

  2. Thank you momofplenty. I do hope this helps people some what, being a mother of an autistic child I know the journey is much like a roller-coaster. Redirection works well I agree especially when you can figure out the child’s pleasure. :o )

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