The nine household items responsible for meltdowns in my autistic children.

Don’t they look so sweet and happy?


That’s because they usually are!

Yet all that can change in an instant when they see or hear certain household items. There are certain things pretty much every home has that cause both of these little angels to go into complete sensory meltdown in the blink of an eye. They become terrified, traumatised and tearful and we often end up exhausted.

So what could be the cause of such fear you may ask?

Here are the top household items that cause meltdowns in my children with autism (in no particular order).

1. The vacuum cleaner.


Just the very appearance of this cleaner causes both children to run for the hills with their ears covered! It’s noisy, smelly, changes the carpets and moves their toys. Wisdom has taught me to keep this machine firmly in the cupboard until the kids are out of the way.

2. The hairdryer.


I have tried to get them to hold it, turn it on and off and even use it on me but no, this item is more like a raoring lion than a plastic air blower to them. Every single time it is needed to be used they fight it even if it is only for my hair. I doubt either of them has a future in hairdressing!

3. Nail clippers.


Oh boy you have never seen a meltdown until you see my children react to these little things! They run, hide and scream so loud I am surprised my neighbours have never called the police to us. They would rather have nails jagging into them or so long their shoes no longer fit than have me take five minutes to gently use nail clippers. Even the highest trained manicurist would struggle to contain the fear my kids have for nail trimming.

4. The shower.


We are blessed to have a bath (in which my kids would happily spend all night in) but sometimes for speed it would be lovely to have them step into the shower quickly before school or after garden play. I may as well suggest being eaten alive by a crocodile! Showers in swimming pools, caravans and hotels are avoided like the plague!

5. A hair brush.


I am a gentle parent, that much I promise you! I brush their hair slowly and calmly and never pull or tug but we still have a huge daily battle to get hair brushed or combed. Gel, spray or mouse is never well recieved so I settle for a basic brush most days. I pray they never ever get the dreaded head lice!

6. The hair trimmer.



I dread the time we have to use these. We have tried barbers and hairdressers but after badly cut ears, and even being banned from one local barbers we decided to try doing it ourselves. It gets so bad I find myself using a number one so that we can go a lot longer before it is required again. It takes days for my son to recover from a hair cut of any sort.

7. Toothpaste and toothbrush.


I don’t think there is a brand of toothpaste we haven’t tried in a vain attempt to get my children to brush their teeth. They are too strong, too minty, too lumpy or too colourful! It never ceases to amaze me that my child chews everything he can get his hands on yet goes crazy at the sight of a toothbrush…something that is actually designed to go in his mouth! We have tried apps on the iPad, songs, timers, character toothpaste and brushes and visual timetables but the sensory overload of brushing seems to cause us to hit a brick wall every night. Dentistry is another career choice I reckon I can score off the list for them both!

8. The food mixer.


Thankfully this gadget isn’t used as often as the others but every time it is used we have meltdown city. It is loud, it vibrates and it makes it impossible for them to stay in the same room. I am eternally grateful it is only ever used for a few minutes although the calming down of the children takes so much longer!

9. Socks.


Yes you read that right! Socks! They don’t make noise, or make them wet or even go in their mouths yet socks drive my children nuts! We have tried the seemless variety and every colour under the sun but it seems anything that covers their feet is unbearable and ought to be binned. We have had socks thrown out of car windows, left in school, flushed down the toilet and hidden at the bottom of the toy box. They are the last item of clothing put on before school and the first items to come off. Cold feet (with uncut nails!) is the way forward apparently!

As long as my children have no shower, long nails with no socks on, wet (uncut) hair that hasn’t been brushed and unclean teeth and my carpets are not vacuumed all is happy in my household!

They don’t seem to see the problems…unfortunately I do!

If you happen to walk past my house and hears screaming you can take a bet on which household item of these I tried using.

While the kids are at school I am off to have a shower, brush my teeth, dry my hair and trim my nails…and put socks on. It will be nice to do them all meltdowns free for once!




10 thoughts on “The nine household items responsible for meltdowns in my autistic children.

  1. For Pearl it’s hairbrush,toothbrush,and nail clippers.For Aspie teen,socks are the very devil.I’d love to say for me it’s the vacuum cleaner and that’s why I don’t use it much but frankly that’s just a poor excuse!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I recognise all of the items on this list.
    Two solutions I’ve discovered…. I have a hairdresser who comes to the house to cut hair. I sit in front of my son holding his DS so he can play a game. As the sensory overload gets worse over the time spent cutting hair, she now cuts the hair on the base of his neck first, as he finds that the ‘hardest’ to endure.
    As for the toothbrush and toothpaste ….. As long as my son puts a toothbrush into his mouth, that’s fine…. The toothpaste is an optional extra… I work on the ‘choose your battles’ criteria! My dentist has recently had some ‘luck’ in cleaning his some of his teeth, but she’s very good and just does as many teeth as he can cope with.
    Hope this helps

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nail clipper’s always, the hair cutting. A local hairdresser now does a once a month sensory low quiet session on a Sunday. 45mins one child at a time same hairdresser, takes time to know the child. Autism and other disorder friendly. Its brilliant. He does not enjoy it but he is able to endure it as apposed to meltdown or untidy/messy/horrible hair.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So glad that this information is out for people who don’t have kids with autism to finally see and understand what we go through on a daily basis and not be so quick to judge. Each child is different in their triggers for a meltdown and one of my sons has almost everything on that list as a trigger and so does my youngest he will actually close the door when I vacuum the house! Please continue to put these words out because they not only help the parents and kids but educate others as well. God bless you all.


  5. Mine freaks out with the vaccum, and hair trimmer! He doesn’t care the hair dryer, and takes his sock & shoe off his left foot only, but neither cause a melt down. We have a hair salon just for kids that has chairs made from hot wheel type cars. He does great as long as the stylist uses scissors, but the moment she pulls the trimmer out to line him up he freaks out. Last time he got a haircut he covered his eyes when she started the trimmer, and so I just kept my hand over them and he did great!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Have you tried Oranurse toothpaste? It’s totally flavour free and we swear by it in our house, I buy it on the Internet, five tubes at a time, and yes, it’s expensive, but that’s what the DLA is for.


  7. My daughter has special needs and sensory processing disorder. Huge meltdowns in our house over nail clipping I have to beg her to do one by one she acts like it causing her huge pain. I have experimented with toothpaste over the years and the only thing that has truly worked is homemade toothpaste! I buy it off of Etsy and it doesn’t have that huge sensory texture and you can get it unflavored as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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