Many parents and caregivers have witnessed the fireworks of anger and emotion from a person with autism, and from the outside they look exactly like the tantrums of young children. While they may look similar in external behavior, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. A tantrum is willful behavior in younger children and therefore can be shaped by rewarding desired behaviors, whereas a meltdown can occur across a lifespan and isn’t impacted by a rewards system. Tantrums slowly go away as a child grows up, but meltdowns may never go away. Of course, children with autism can also have classic temper tantrums, but understanding the difference is important because tantrums need one kind of response, but that same response will only make things worse for a person have an autistic meltdown from being overwhelmed by sensory stimuli.