School and Fridays and Autism, the meltdowns that end an overwhelming week

My son is now in his second year of school, although it’s really just kindergarten, he has been doing full days and full weeks the entire time. Ever since the very first week, we’ve noticed and recognized a very consistent and steady trend. Mondays are good. Fridays are bad.


I'm freaking out!

Most everyone can identify with the build up that occurs all week and is the main reason that we all look forward to Friday so much… 2 days of freedom! Whether it’s school or work, Monday to Friday is a continual build up of stress, nerves, frustrations, anxiety and a whole host other negative feelings.

With Autism, they rate it from mild to severe, high functioning to low functioning, but regardless of where you ‘rate’, the emotional and sensory and overwhelming feelings are all there. And that only makes the Monday to Friday build up that much worse.

In our case, Fridays are almost always meltdown days. Cameron can go the entire week without getting a single time out at school and end up getting 4 in one day, like today… Friday.

Then he gets home and he lashes out at his little brother, he refuses to eat, he does not listen and he even gets a bit violent (pushing and kicking).

What happened from the very happy boy on Monday that gets no time outs to the little monster of Friday?

It’s not his diet, it’s not something in the air, it’s just the build up. Constant attention, constant demands, constant sensory stimulation, constant learning, constant physical activities… more, more, more and and come Friday, he explodes.

I’m open to suggestions as to what to do about this, because all that we do works for a while, but only a while. Weighted vests, short breaks, different foods… there’s not a lot available to us as parents since they’re off at school on their own.

All I do know is that come Friday, there needs to be an understanding from us parents, that there is a reason that they’re like this. Not to let it slide, bad behaviour is bad behaviour. But there is a reason for it and they are struggling too.

It’s up to you to choose the consequences and the punishments but when you do (and there should be some), keep in mind that they’re having a very very bad day already. Help them to over come the bad day, rather than simply add to it.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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5 Responses to School and Fridays and Autism, the meltdowns that end an overwhelming week

  1. Marita November 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    Fridays were hell for us until I came to an agreement with our school that my 7yo would be homeschooled one day a week – Fridays. So she goes mainstream Monday to Thursday and is home on Friday.

    My 5year old is in a special needs class this year and they get Wednesday off school to give them a break which is awesome.

    I will admit to some trepidation about next year when school has asked they both start the year full time 5 days a week and see how we go.

  2. Claire Arce November 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Fridays for my son are not as severe as you describe it. He’s 12 y/o and Fridays are the second best days of the week.

    He enjoys Mondays because he’s knows he’s going back to his structured time where the day is filled for him. Granted it may not be the things he wants to do, but he’s out of the house and keeping busy.

    Fridays are the second best day for him because he knows he gets two days off. And these are the worst for me because there is no structure and I struggle to keep him occupied. But for him, it’s no work, no school rules, etc.

    It might get better as he learns about the rest or days off. Maybe.

  3. Roger Tidd November 9, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    I found that this was quite common for the parents of several students I worked with – in an ASD unit attached to an MLD (Moderate Learning Difficulties) school. I think that part of the problem was that we were able to give them (the students) so much structure, both in activities, environment and response – plus working on specific personal goals – that they learned to ‘cope’ with the pressures. Once outside this environment they would ‘let loose’. We had We had 5 staff for 12 students plus a speech therapist for 3 days which meant that if problems arose, which they did, then we had members of staff who could work with them 1-1 while the rest carried on with their schedules. Unfortunately parents are often alone with their children and have to get on with the more mundane things in life which sometimes means giving way somewhat. I never really felt working with the students ‘got to me’ as it was a professional situation that lasted about 7 hours each day.(See Claire above) Dealing with my son however, who is now 28, is a different kettle-of-fish and I share the same frustration and anxieties faced by most parents of ‘children’ on the spectrum.
    Hopefully, the fact that Cameron is able to hold it more or less together for most of the week is a good sign even if you have to pick up the pieces afterwards. I’ve seen amazing results with children who were extremely challenging when young but who, with the right learning environment and support from home lead relatively independent lives.
    Stay strong!

  4. Roger Tidd November 9, 2010 at 5:47 am #

    I’m “Twig” on twitter btw!

  5. Lisa B April 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Make friday a fun day!! create a social story that outlines expectations for the week then Name friday as a family fun day,,.. or preferred activity ect,.. then each day read the story and prep him for the day,. also te first week you may want to ignore negative behavior and try focusing him on activity,..

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