A tantrum and a meltdown are two very different things that should not be confused even though they outwardly can appear the same.
- A meltdown is not naughty or attention seeking behaviour. Tantrums are wilful behaviour that have an expected outcome after. Meltdowns are not planned or chosen.
- An autistic meltdown is based on overwhelm or sensory overload. It may lead to screaming and crying which looks similar to a tantrum but could also lead to complete shut down.
- Meltdowns cannot have the same response as a tantrum. Methods of stopping tantrums like hugs, distractions or discipline may not have the same effect.
- Tantrums need an audience; that’s why children tend to stop once you give them attention. Meltdowns will occur with or without an audience.
- Tantrums tend to go away with age. Autism meltdowns are not age related.