Alex Lowery speaks about autism

6 tips to teach a child with High functioning autism how to recognise they are going into a meltdown

Written on 24th Feb 2014 by Sylvia Lowery



When Alex was younger he had a lot of meltdowns which ruled all our lives. Here is one of the therapies we did with Alex that over the years has helped him. 

It is important to teach this skill when your child is calm and happy. We used a colour wheel which was very simple. A meltdown is a terrifying experience which may take days for individual with autism to recover from. The best approach is for the individual with autism to learn to recognise the early signs and take steps to prevent a full meltdown.


1. When you child is calm and happy point to the white segment and tell them that is where they are on the colour wheel. Do this many times in different contexts.

2. Move on to getting your child to point to the white on the wheel when they are happy. Give then stickers for doing this.

3. Once the white calm identifying of emotions is mastered move onto the yellow segment. Begin to identify when toy child is beginning to get anxious or upset and point to the yellow segment. Help you child to recognise when this is happening by prompting your child to recognise these feelings in them selves. Get your child to point to the yellow when they are beginning to feel like this.

4.  Demonstrate the orange and red experience through short films or pictures. It is not a good idea to try to teach skills during a meltdown. Social stories are a good way to teach the difference.

5. Once your child is able to recognise this early stage of a meltdown or anxiety begin to give your child the tools they need to avoid getting into orange or red. If they are moving into yellow a way of escape or distraction must be provided. If possible provide a quiet safe place for the child to go while they calm down and adjust. If playing games on an ipad helps then provide this. You know your child provide whatever works.

6. All people who work with the child must recognise the signal and provide the help. It is better if the signal is non verbal because a lot of individuals with autism struggle to speak during a meltdown.

Here is the colour wheel :-




5 thoughts on “6 tips to teach a child with High functioning autism how to recognise they are going into a meltdown

  1. Alex Lowery says:

    If you would like me to send you the colour wheel image just drop me a line at

  2. Donna says:

    I forgot about this. It really did help.

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Organisations Alex has worked with

  • Autism Cymru
  • Chester University
  • Glyndwr University
  • National Autistic Society
  • St John's Ambulance
  • Welsh Government

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