I am a mum of six. My three youngest all have ASD and have terrible trouble with meltdowns after school. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of the ‘delay effect’ for children on the spectrum. That being that they hold themselves together and show no behaviour of concern at school but ‘meltdown’ when they return home. My question: is there any research evidence that this exists and what can be done to help?
It must be very difficult for you to cope with three children with ASD having meltdowns all at the same time.
We are not aware of any research on meltdowns after school in children with ASD. However, the same behaviour can be observed in many children without disabilities. Children do ‘play up’ more in the presence of people whom they trust and who love them unconditionally.
With this in mind, you could try ruling out any of the basic causes of behavior change. For example:
Are your children hungry?
Ask the teachers if they could observe your children’s eating routines. If they aren’t eating enough during the day, perhaps an after-school snack might help.
Are they frustrated?
Ask the teachers if anything happened to frustrate your children, which they let out at home.
Can you distract your children by giving them age-appropriate tasks or activities when they get home? They may not play up when they are distracted.
If they are over-stimulated, perhaps some quiet time away from their siblings will help them to process the day’s activities and calm down.