Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns are a couple of signs/symptoms that are well known for people living with Autism. They may be similar, in terms of how the individual’s self-control is affected. However, they are completely different, based on the environment and the individual themselves, like their personality as an example. As an individual living with Autism and as a Paraprofessional, I’ve experienced these myself and through students living with Autism.
Temper Tantrums are outbursts in which people with Autism have some control of their behavior. For most of the time, temper tantrums occur if someone is trying to communicate something that they want or need. For example, if my parents did not understand what I kept trying to communicate, it would me make feel frustrated that I would have a temper tantrum as a result. This does not occur for me as often any more as it did in the past. Teaching ways to control our emotions is valuable to overcome experiences of Temper Tantrums.
Meltdowns are outbursts in which people with Autism have no control of their behavior. It takes longer time to recover from meltdowns than from temper tantrums. My meltdowns occurred whenever I faced a lot of anxiety and anger. I used to even throw objects, like my stuff animals or pillows from my bed, because I was just so done with the world around me. I would scream and yell because I had enough with the situation that was occurring or the environment. Everything became overwhelming that I would shutdown. On the other hand, I refused to let anyone see me so upset and angry, because I knew others were upset and angry at me as it was. I would run away somewhere to be alone, so that I can calm myself down. I needed my space to calm down and relax. It is better off to take a break and recover to learn from the situation(s).
No matter what an individual with Autism is going through, a Temper Tantrum/Meltdown, please remember to not give up on us. The one thing that for someone living with Autism always wants and needs is your love and support, whatever your their parent, educator, and etc. Please continue to help with these because we can grow a lot in our own ways.