Meltdowns are equivalent to the fight response 

In a situation when the child is completely overwhelmed, and their condition means it is difficult to express that in another way, it is understandable that the result is a meltdown.  Meltdowns are not the only way an autistic person may express feeling overwhelmed. Meltdowns are very physically tiring and emotionally draining for the individual. A meltdown, however, has no purpose and is beyond a child’s control. This is because the person has been in a distressing situation and has had a highly adrenalized and emotionalized response.  


Shutdowns are similar to the freeze response 

Situation when the child may either partially or completely withdraw from the world around them. They may not respond to communication anymore, retreat to their room, or lie down on the floor. They may also no longer be able to move from the situation they are in, no matter what it is (for example, a shopping center or a classroom). Shutdowns tend to be more discreet than meltdowns and sometimes go unnoticed. A shutdown is an involuntary reaction.  


Tantrum behavior will usually stop when the parent ignores the behavior

A temper tantrum is usually a child’s method for getting what he/she wants. Tantrum behavior will usually stop when the child is removed from a public space where the behavior is occurring, or when the child gets what they want. Tantrums require an audience.