How to Handle After School Meltdowns

It’s back-to-school time! Many parents look forward to this all summer long, while others absolutely dread it. Changing your child’s schedule abruptly at the beginning of a new school year can cause lots of chaos and big emotions. Children on the autism spectrum typically feel this stress much more intensely, which can lead to after school meltdowns. If your kids struggles with this, check out these great ideas to reduce the overwhelm!

Why do after school meltdowns occur?

How is it even possible? Your child was a perfect angel all day; their teacher said so! Now they are sobbing uncontrollably and throwing things. What happened?! How can your kid have such a great day at school, then come home and completely fall apart?

So many moms struggle with this. They begin to wonder if they are a horrible parent, if the teacher is lying, or if their child despises them. The drastic change in behavior is difficult to wrap your mind around.

Believe it or not, after school meltdowns are pretty normal, especially for autistic children. Home is their safe place. They know they can get away with more at home. No, they aren’t necessarily trying to manipulate, mistreat, or use you – they just know they can be themselves without fear of unknown punishment. They don’t have to try to bottle up all of their overwhelming emotions, stress, and sensory overload any longer, so they explode.

How to reduce after school meltdowns

What are we supposed to do then? Just let them explode on us each day? While it is necessary for our kids to have a safe place, and to be able to release their bottled up emotions, we also need to teach them healthy ways to do it. That is obviously more of a challenge with special needs children. 

These sensory integration exercises require assistance, but have super results:

  • Ball squashes (roll an exercise ball up and down your child, as they lay on the floor or a mat)
  • Joint compressions
  • Deep squeezes (slowly squeeze and release up and down your child’s arms and legs)
  • Body rolls (wrap a blanket around your child and roll them from one side of the bed or floor to the other) 
Some of us may not have all the times on out hand but it worth trying 

Help them feel comfortable

Most parents have an internal instinct to ask their kids about their school day the second they get home. If your kiddo enjoys this, don’t bother stopping. But if you’re reading this, my guess is that your child doesn’t want to answer questions after school, because they are stressed.

Check their IEP

If you have tried these suggestions and still feel like your child is not improving, talk with the powers at be about changing their IEP. You can request sensory breaks, special exceptions, and therapeutic aids to be written into the IEP in order to help your child during the school day. 

What have you done to help your child regulate after school? What has worked? I always love to hear what works for others, as we all know that our children respond to different methods! Leave a comment below and let me know what you’ve tried!