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All images and posts written by and copyright to Amanda Clements (nee Gray) 2009-2012 unless otherwise indicated.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why are they melting down?

Meltdowns are a physical, adrenaline-led response to a range of different emotions and triggers (Lipsky, 2009). These can be anything from anxiety, anger, frustration to sensory overload. An important step in dealing with meltdowns is to understand the reason why they are occurring (Myles & Southwick, 2005).

Functional Behaviour Assessment

Part of Applied Behaviour Analysis is identifying the function of behaviour. In a previous post, four key functions of behaviour were highlighted - to avoid something, get something, sensory-based responses and pain attenuation.

Functional behaviour assessments are about recording observations and analysing them to identify why repeated difficult behaviour happens. You can find out more about this in this post or by reading this document from

An online tool

Parents, teachers and therapists can try this easy-to-complete online tool that can give a quick indication for the possible function of a child's behaviour. You fill out a series of questions online, then you get a table which indicates which of the key functions of behaviour are most likely to be behind your child's behaviour. Below is a sample of what you will see.

Printable Resources

If you prefer a more complex, thorough process (especially if you are a teacher) you might want to download the following forms from

Behaviour Observation Forms
Functional Behaviour Assessment Forms


Lipsky, D. and Richards, W. (2009). Managing Meltdowns: Using the SCARED Calming Technique with Children and Adults with Autism. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Myles, B.S. and J. Southwick (2005). Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments: Practical Solutions for Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns. Autism Asperger Publishing Company: Kansas


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