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Supporting your child with difference bahaviour

Everyone displays ‘behaviour difficulties’ at some time because it is a way of communicating what they are thinking or feeling. Those with Autism may seem to display challenging behaviour more frequently than other children but this is because they see the world differently.

They do not always understand social rules, may have difficulty expressing themselves and may struggle to cope with changes in routine and understanding how other people may be feeling, all of which can lead to very stressful situations for them. This, together with any sensory issues they may have, can be overwhelming for them to deal with and their only way to cope and to let you know that they are struggling is through inappropriate or ‘challenging’ behaviour (sometimes described as tantrums, rage and meltdowns).

Tantrums, rage and meltdowns can mean different things for different individuals but they usually occur in three stages which are rumble, rage and recovery (diagram below). The rumble phase is the start of the behaviour, also known as the trigger or antecedent. It is the most important phase because this is the point where the child is building up to the rage phase and there are usually opportunities to defuse the situation. Every child is different but you may notice certain ‘rumbling’ behaviours such as fidgeting, making noises, foot tapping, pulling faces / grimacing, etc.

Rage graph

These behaviours may initially appear to be minor and unrelated to the ensuing meltdown or they may be more obvious but over time you will be able to more easily identify what your child’s rumbling behaviour is.

The rage phase is the ‘acting out’ behaviour or meltdown. Again, this will be individual to your child but may include externalised behaviour (eg screaming, hitting, biting, destroying property, etc) or internalised behaviour (eg becoming withdrawn). If your child reaches this stage, the main thing to do is to try to remain calm and to ensure the safety of the child and those around them.

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