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What should I do if I see a child having a meltdown in a public place?

Please, just stop and think, sometimes it’s not just a “badly behaved child” that you’re looking at

One of the toughest things that a parent or carer with an autistic child faces is when the child has a meltdown in a public place, maybe at an airport or a supermarket or in the middle of the street.

These answers have been provided by some of our members…

‘Please don’t stare, or pass judgment: we are trying our best in difficult circumstances and telling me “that child needs a good slap” is not helpful. If you want to do something, please offer to help, maybe with a young sibling to make sure they are safe, or help to open a door for us if we have our hands full, or maybe offer to push the supermarket trolley to the car. Something like that would be useful and so very much appreciated.’

‘I think the best response I’ve ever had is from a lovely lady who asked if I needed any help or if I would like her to carry my bags to help me to a safe place. My son was having a meltdown at the top of the escalator in M&S. I accepted her offer of help and she carried my bags and also picked up my son’s shoes after he had thrown them as I was trying to get him down the stairs. Before she came along, lots of people just walked past staring at us. Getting him outside helped to calm him down. I don’t like people to try to talk to my son when he is having a meltdown as I find this most unhelpful, I would prefer people to just leave him to me.’

*For more, see the top tips compiled by autism experts and autistic people on the National Autistic Society’s website here.