Asperger's Syndrome Newletter Header Image


Friend me on Facebook

Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…

Asperger’s Syndrome: How can I stop meltdowns when routines change?

Understanding the need for routine in people with Asperger’s syndrome

People with Asperger’s syndrome need to have a routine and need to know what is going to happen next at all times. Routine is stabilizing and essential to people with Asperger’s syndrome; they get very anxious when they are not prepared for what will happen.

Having a routine and predictability helps those with Asperger’s syndrome feel safe. Whether you’re meeting someone with Asperger’s syndrome for the first time or trying to figure out how to best help a loved one, creating a routine, using explicit, literal, verbal language to communicate, being aware of sensory issues and trying to minimize them as much as possible, and having lots of love and understanding will go a long way to helping people with Asperger’s navigate the world.

Consistency Is Important for People with Asperger’s Syndrome

What are some things a parent can do to help?

The most important thing is to be consistent. Everyone (but especially kids) with Asperger’s syndrome thrive on routine.

Everything needs to be done at the same time, in the same way, every day, as much as possible, to give a sense of safety and security. When there will be a change in routine, tell your loved one as far in advance and explain what will happen.

When you talk to your loved one with Asperger’s, you should use a calm and even tone of voice, and use explicit language that says exactly what you mean.

Do not make requests too complicated or ask a child, teenager or even an adult with Asperger’s syndrome to do things with too many steps at once. Try to keep your language as literal as possible.

Try to be very verbal. If your child does something right, praise them for it. But this advice is definitely not just for children.

I received this email from an adult which describes how he feels when things get complicated and he begins to meltdown…

An Aspie is like a juggler who can keep one ball in the air at a time, but struggles with more than one. Right now I am battling with four or five balls (problems) that just do not seem to get resolved and at times, like today, and my mind is on overload and cannot cope – it just goes blank, I forget things, lose things, which are uncharacteristic. Can you recommend anything to help me, please?

Meltdowns can occur in adults as well as children with Asperger’s syndrome

If your loved one has a meltdown, the most important thing to remember when dealing with these situations is to try to figure out what caused them. Your loved one is not doing this to intentionally annoy you; he is doing it because he has reached his limit of tolerance in whatever he is dealing with. If you feel his meltdown was caused by a change in routine, reassure him of the routine for the rest of the day and that the routine will not change the next day, if that is the case.

Successful tactics used by parents of children with Asperger’s syndrome

In the research I conducted for my book, The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide, I interviewed hundreds of parents. The following are specific actions that parents of children with Asperger’s syndrome told me helps minimize or reduce the likelihood of meltdowns.

“We try not to change anything around him. I try to be with him as much as possible.”

“Keeping on a strict schedule and explaining if something will be different, aside from the normal routine.”

“We have added visual cues where possible we try not to stray from routine, even when something exciting is happening we created ‘retreats’ where our son can go to calm down.”

“I try to keep some kind of structure. Any change in his routine, will result in a meltdown – from his morning routine all the way to his bedtime.”

“We provide warnings (30 minute, 10 minute, 5, etc.) when we know a transition is approaching. We have ‘do overs’ as an opportunity to ‘go back in time’ and make things the way she likes them. We don’t raise our voice with her because that causes her to become highly agitated. Instead, we try to be silly and cajole her into calming down.”

“We have tried to ‘slow down’ and work around his temperament. We no longer ‘rush’ to do things and try to allow plenty of time because we found that by telling him we were ‘running late’ it only caused him to get more upset. We have tried to cut down/eliminate those items that we know send him on ‘sensory overload.’ We have altered his diet and we are still working at how to lessen/shorten the melt downs as well as what other things trigger them.”

“Making changes would be the wrong thing to do in Saira’s case. We have had the same routine since she was 2 and any change would pretty much destroy her perfect world.”

“we tend to follow the same routine, or sequence of activities, we have to be careful about transitions, make sure that preferred foods are available, he needs very close following to see that homework and other non-preferred activities are completed well so use picture schedules at times”

Click to hear how Craig’s book helped Amanda’s son who has Asperger’s syndrome


Listen to Amanda Inverness shares how Craig's book helped her son with Aspergers Syndrome

My son is 12 and a half. Before the book, he would have anger and aggression issues. He would go into his own world and block everyone completely out. He would not listen. He would stare completely right through you as if you were not even there. He would freak out and basically have like a temper tantrum. It was a severe temper tantrum like you were dealing with a two year old–like a terrible twos.

You can’t go to restaurants. You can’t go to the grocery store. You can’t go to the movies. You are afraid to go to family functions. You’re actually afraid to go anywhere. You get constant phone calls from the school because he is labeled as a “problem child.” That has been my son all of his life.

After the book he no longer has any meltdowns. I immediately started implementing things and the way that I handled things and I started focusing on all of the positives in his life. The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide helped establish the understanding of what my son goes through–how he sees the world–because I had absolutely no clue. Then around family he is fine because now the family understands because I have explained the situation with them.

The greatest thing that I got out of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide would be his [Craig Kendall’s] detailed solutions on how to cope with Asperger’s, the way he puts it into laymen’s terms and understanding how my son sees the world by giving examples. And I think it helped that he has a child with Asperger’s as well. And the information on support groups.



These are just a few of the answers you will need to successfully survive and thrive with Asperger’s syndrome. If you are looking for additional answers immediately, read my books, The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide, Asperger’s Syndrome Guide for Teens and Young Adults, and Thriving in Adulthood with Asperger’s Syndrome.

6 Responses to How can I stop meltdowns when routines change-5

  1. Edith Walker says:

    Our daughter is now 33 yrs old. She is smart ans was an honor student. Her two brothers have Delexia. She was so snmart growing up her Asperger’s syndrome was masked to us compared to her brothers. Now as an adult we see meltdowns, angry outbursts, intolerence to noise and much ado like family holiday gatherings. Last Christmas she & har family declined to join the rest of our family to celebrate. what can we do to make things more calm & enjoyable for her?

  2. amy says:

    Hi my name is Amy and my son Jaden is 8 yrs old . I was told he had Asperger’s syndrome , ODD , and mood disorder. Jaden get very upset in his meltdowns and hit, bites, kicks and pulls my hair. also if he gets mad at my 5 yr old he will hurt him. Jaden has been in hospitals 6 times and comes out the same . all they do is change his meds. and sometimes its like every other week they are changing them. He has no friends that he plays with like any other child would do . and I cant get him to eat much of anything and he has been that way from a baby starting baby foods. I don’t think the doctors working with Jaden are helping him because some of the meds. they put him on take at least 2 or more weeks to start working and most of the time he is only on it for one week before they are changing it again. I don’t know how to help him and im at my wits end any help would be wonderful . I would love to see Jaden living a happier life .. Thanks Amy

  3. Poppy says:

    Amazing! Really helpful!

  4. Vicki says:

    My son is a 25 year old Aspie still learning to navigate his way in a world
    that unfortunately still remains pretty
    ill-knowledged on dealing with AI spectrum
    folks. Our new focus is “life skills” for
    Jacob. We try to recognize an imminent meltdown and run one of our interference plays…either a “mental mini vacation-usually about two minutes will help” or
    some deep cleansing breath 3 – 5 minimum.
    A quick “sensory snack – something sweet and
    crunchy like an apple, or just moving to a quiet zone.

  5. Sandi Pliska says:

    Hi Craig, I found your web site while doing a general search about Aspergers. Our son who is now 14 years old has displayed many, but not certainly all of the Asperger “type” symptoms. Jack was born quite premature and went through over 5 years of Occupational Therapy and some limited Physical Therapy for fine ans gross motor deficits and tactical issues. What is a working dx of Sensory Deficit Syndrome. Wow, has he came a long way. He is very social and makes and keeps good friends since childhood.
    Just recently a (or should I say another) Child Developmental M.D. has brought up the word ASPERGERS for the first time.
    Jack has both parents that work in Pediatric Sub-Specialists. Poor guy! He doesn’t have a chance. Ha!
    Any advise for maybe the children who are fall on the “out-lying” spectrum of Aspergers? Many thanks, Sandi

    • Craig Kendall - Author says:

      Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism…sometimes referred to as high functioning autism. Everyone who has autism has different characteristics. There is no “typical” person with autism. Generally, nearly everyone on the autism spectrum suffers from 1) Communication challenges and 2) Social skills challenges. I would not focus on labels. It does not matter if one diagnoses him with autism or not. Focus on the skills that he will need to develop to succeed in life and get him help. You say he is displaying many of the symptoms of Asperger’s. While you do not specify what those symptoms are, I suggest the boy get a therapist who can help him overcome these issues. Our book, New Hope for Autism is excellent at supplying moms with all types of strategies that can be hugely helpful. I suggest you investigate it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *