As the mother of an autistic kid, my kid had meltdowns more frequently (and at older ages) than most. Here’s what living through that taught me: Kids can only cope with so much. Whether it’s stimuli, hunger, boredom, or being forced to be “good,”(i.e., stay by Mom and keep quiet while we shop or deal with the DMV or whatever), they’ve only got so much capacity for tolerating it. The best you can do is try to minimize the things they don’t tolerate well. And when they do start showing signs of a meltdown, let them know you’re hearing them, maybe ask if they can put into words what they’re feeling (if that’s age appropriate), and then give them some hope for quick relief. Maybe they just need a snack, or to get out of the giant over-bright box store and somewhere quiet for 15 mins. The key is you can’t expect kids to act like little adults!

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I write true crime and twisted fiction. I also host a true-crime YouTube channel at

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