Dr Pooky Knightsmith

Keynote Speaker, Author & Advisor

January 13, 2023

BOOK REVIEW | Managing Meltdowns & Tantrums on the Autism Spectrum

My Summary:

Don’t be deceived by this seemingly small book which is short enough to be read in one sitting as it’s crammed full of useful information and ideas.  You’ll learn to understand how to distinguish between tantrums and meltdowns and how to prevent and manage both.  

 General Information:

Title: Managing Meltdowns and Tantrums on the Autism Spectrum: A Parent and Caregiver’s Guide

Authors: Jenna Ward-Hawkes and Melissa Rodi 

Publish date: August 2019

Length: 80 pages

Target audience: Parents and carers of autistic children

Publisher’s Overview:

This book is ideal for parents and carers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) aged 2 – 9 (and potentially older depending on developmental level), who are looking for guidance and proactive behavioural strategies in managing tantrums and meltdowns. 

It offers an empathetic approach and provides explanations of what goes on in the brain and body of someone experiencing a meltdown, describing sensory reactions and brain processes. The authors help the reader to distinguish between tantrums and meltdowns, and how to react to these different emotional states. Summarising key strategies, the book then provides short- and long-term strategies to implement, offering practical response plans and a toolbox of techniques that empower parents to further support their child.


  1. What Is Happening to the Brain During a Tantrum or Meltdown?
  2. Sensory versus Behavioural Tantrums and Meltdowns
  3. Functional Behaviour Analysis
  4. The List of To Dos During a Tantrum
  5. Surviving a Meltdown!
  6. Pre-empting Tantrums or Meltdowns and Implementing Support Strategies

My favourite thing about it:

What I most loved about this little gem of a book is how it demystified the topic and was reassuring and gave lots of practical ideas. This is something you can feel you’re getting very wrong as a parent/carer but there was no judgement at all here, just support and strategies to better our understanding and give us the tools needed to do things a little differently moving forwards. 

You should read this book if… 

You’re a parent, carer or other supporting adults who is struggling to understand and manage the behaviour of a child in your care. The book suggests it’s for parents of 2-9 year olds; I think it is more widely applicable and is helpful both to those support slightly older children and also for those supporting within professional settings as well as in the home. 

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