Now Reading: My Kid w/ Autism Had a Tantrum, Not a Meltdown! Awesome! :-)

My Kid w/ Autism Had a Tantrum, Not a Meltdown! Awesome! :-)

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(originally written & published on April 19, 2012)

This quick story comes courtesy of my wife, Autism Mommy.

After picking up Kyle from school yesterday she dragged him to this store called “Amazing Savings” to shop for favors for his birthday party.

Kyle knows this store well and the wife says he usually pretty well behaved there. Walks the store with her, doesnt need to be put in the cart.

And there’s one aisle with real cheapie small toys that he knows and loves and the wife reported that the king plopped himself on the floor and started playing with a few, which for him mainly means putting them in his mouth…. but whatever…

The wife lets him spend 5 minutes plopped on the floor and then picks the one toy that he seems to be liking he best and let’s him “carry” it around the store for the rest of their shopping trip.


This keeps him occupied and happy and the wife can browse a bit easier…still saying “no mouth” like every 30 seconds, but still more manageable than without the toy.

They finish their shopping and head to the checkout, Kyle still clutching his new toy. After ringing everything up my wife takes the toy away from the king and says “ok buddy this has to stay here. we’re all done with this one.”

And Kyle proceeds to plop himself down in the checkout aisle and starts quickly getting
agitated & loud.

And mom says “wow ok, I guess you REALLY want that huh buddy. ok mommy will get it for you.”

And she bought it for him. And he stopped carrying on and got up and left the store happily.

And when the wife told me this story she was THRILLED and when I heard it I immediately got it and I was THRILLED!

Our son threw a tantrum!


He knew what he wanted. He had a strong opinion about what he wanted and he got his point across clearly. There was no confusion as to why he was carrying on. He wanted that toy and let mom know!

For Kyle this is HUGE! He doesn’t normally have tantrums. It always seems that he doesn’t have strong opinions and sometimes goes with the flow almost too much.

Or if he does have tantrums it’s not clear to mom & dad as to why he’s crying or screaming or whatever. He’s not doing a good enough job at getting his point across. So usually we’d just chalk it up to your classic autism meltdown. “oh maybe this store is making him over-stimulated.”

But the fact that he had an honest to goodness definite slam dunk of a tantrum is awesome news to us.

And we hope to see a lot more of them! Bring us more tantrums! 🙂

Now that’s something that you probably rarely hear come out of a patents mouth! Even an autism parent!

As the wife always says “it’s funny where life takes you…”


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Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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22 People Replies to “My Kid w/ Autism Had a Tantrum, Not a Meltdown! Awesome! :-)”

  1. Anonymous

    Well done kyle!! Now please don't chastise me for this….but….I totally get why you are excited and that you can see it's a tantrum. I know folks who demand to have an autism diagnosis because this event described here is how their "autistic" verbal kids behave all the time. That pisses me off! Why do they want that? It deducts from real 'sufferers' of the condition.

  2. Anonymous

    So….as this happened back in april 2012 and you end your blogpost expressing how you and your wife hope to see more of it… it makes me wonder if you indeed have seen Kyle throw more tantrums.

  3. Erica Cook

    props for use of positive reinforcement. I have no doubt that he will learn that showing what he wants clearly will get him what he wants. And yeah, its a rare parent that says, "Oh, good. My kid just threw a temper tantrum, but most other parents don't get one fit over a toy in a lifetime at that age, it's likely every day or so. I personally believe that we don't get a clear sense of the intellect of an autistic mind because the world just isn't set up for how they think so that intellect is hidden by actions caused by a stress we don't understand. I'd be interested to find out what he does with this new found information.

  4. Caz

    This made me smile, I can identify so much! We have two little girls with Autism and a few weeks ago our 7 year old told her first lie; I was sure she had picked up a chunk of ice from a display in a shop and put it in her mouth but when I asked her she shook her head 'no' repeatedly. I asked her to show me her tongue and there was the ice, I was so excited I rang her Dad to tell him about it 😀 I also remember sitting in my car having a cry the first time I took our youngest out to the shops and she didn't run away from me once, I was so happy and emotional about it. Life certainly is different!

  5. I get it! I was thrilled the first time my Cooper didn't share. He fought for a toy he wanted! It was great. Thanks for the good story!

  6. Anonymous

    While it's great he's doing something "normal", why in hell would you let him have the toy? Wouldn't it have made more sense to make it into a real teaching moment, where he learns that tantrums aren't acceptable behavior? Now you've positively reinforced that screaming gets what he wants. The normalcy is great, but teaching him bad behavior, in ADDITION to the autism behavior, is pretty frightening for the future.

  7. Anonymous

    Totally get it – but now look out! He might decide to try that every time he wants something in the store. I do the same thing with my son – let him hold a toy through the store, but when it's time to go we put it back and he knows that's what we do so he is good with it. It was kind of funny on one trip – he was playing with a toy and got mad at me for some reason and was starting to tantrum by yelling "put it back, put it back!" He was ready to go!

  8. Anonymous

    Sorry to not join in with the merrymaking. But my autistic son was the king of tantrums not too long ago… so this story raises painful memories. What started with screaming and kicking gradually grew into hitting, and head slamming, and then self-injurious behavior. My son is now blind in one eye because he has hit his head so many times that he detached his retina. And we didn't catch it quickly enough so he lost his eyesight.

    There's a lot more very sad and horrible stories to go along with my son's extreme tantrums for several years. Happily he is now almost aggression/SIB free due to lots of hard work by many people consistently implementing his behavior plan and due to hundreds of neurotherapy appointments.

    I know you are celebrating this as "normal". But this normal manipulative behavior can quickly get out of control. Might want to save the party for now and instead consult a good behavior specialist.

    I know… what a wet blanket I am! Flame away! It can't hurt any worse than watching my child go through that kinda of horror.

    1. Anonymous

      No flames here. Your story broke my heart. *hugs*

  9. Now Kyle, to teach you how to manipulate with the puppy dog eyes……. 🙂

  10. Becbeq

    Awesome! It's hilarious the things we get excited over. The first time my son attempted to lie to me I told his teacher "I'm not sure whether to be mad about the lie, or excited that he's trying a new language skill…". I went with the second choice. 🙂

  11. Anonymous

    So Happy for you and Kyle!!!!

  12. That is WONDERFUL! SO happy for you!

  13. Anonymous

    Ah the things we celebrate:) Congratulations!!

  14. So glad you had a real moment there and that he got his toy he really must have wanted. So many parents dread kids throwing a fit over a toy but it's a blessing when you have never had it. I'm still waiting on lil boy to have a tantrum over something other than bed time or me having to leave. My David has already been there, but most of the time he gets what he want without the fit.

  15. Only parents on this journey are likely to get the distinction and the huge significance!!! Yeeha for more tantrums in your house 😉 [I think….]

  16. Ber

    Don't you love these moments?! They're the best!

  17. Congratulations on your first tantrum! I wish you a thousand more! : )

  18. So awesome! I totally get it!

  19. Anonymous

    I love that story! A few years ago I was talking with a new mom whose child just started temper tantrums. I'm a very calm mother by nature, and it irks me when other parents freak out when their child was throwing temper tantrums, when really it's their chance to give their child a life lesson calmly, and guide their child through an important part of their development, I found myself appreciating the fact that their child was exhibiting behaviours that's normal for their development and it's only a bad thing when the parent doesn't keep ahead of their child and guide them through it. The fact that my son didn't go through that made me realize the importance of going through that stage, so necessary for their future decision making, people skills.

  20. Anonymous

    I so understand this. My guy is almost 7 and has PDD/NOS. He had meltdowns but never the tantrums associated with the terrible twos. Others thought it was great but, we knew after his diagnosis that it wasn't. He started the terrible two's at about 5 and a half. Not enjoyable but we were excited by it. Now I am having a hard time determining the difference sometimes. Your picture up there should help me.