A Meltdown refers to a sudden loss of control over one's feelings or behaviour. This can be displayed in many different ways such as anger, frustration, anxiety, self harming, tears and even silence.
When I first became aware and started learning more about Autism I thought a meltdown was a massive release of anger and aggression and that was it, for a lot of people with Autism their meltdown does take that form. Someone may physically damage the environment around them in some way or cause physical harm to themselves so in these cases it is important to know what to do when it gets to this situation or try our hardest to prevent a situation getting to this stage. Not always that easy though eh?
I got to thinking about meltdowns a lot this week and thought a lot about my son's meltdowns. He tends to do the opposite of the above and hold the frustration in, this will eventually display as emotional outburst of tears and if pushed to the limit he will hit himself but that's the worse case scenario.
Holding a lot of information in which he can't process properly leads to a lot of anxiety and this anxiety will start to show in him repeating a lot of verbal information over and over, this is his calming method, I know he's trying to get back to a level where he feels comfortable. We have built knowledge together as a family over many years and still we don't always get it right. He doesn't know how to process some information which is directed at him in some ways so we can never predict what his reaction will be. I know I can't raise my voice too much with him as this raises his anxiety, that doesn't mean he never gets told off but it means we go about it in a different way. My youngest son was always dismayed at the way his brother never got told off until we explained why. He gets it now.
In my experience I wondered how I experienced my own meltdowns and when I look at my behaviour, I'm very similar to my son as I burst into tears. This my release of frustration. I find anger and aggression frightening so it's probably a good job my son is like he is. I cannot be told off either, if anyone confronts me or I get to a stage where I can't quite work my reaction out it usually comes with a good cry. This was not a good situation when my brain got overloaded at college a few years ago and my tutors response was 'you need to pull yourself together', well yes maybe I did but I know that I wouldn't say that to anyone I know who was in a similar situation. At the time I was in the middle of a bout of depression too which was made clear when I started studying so I'm hoping along the line a bit of compassion may have been learnt since then.
Do get in touch with someone to help you if you do struggle with behaviour in any way. Everyones situation is different but there are techniques to help. As a local branch of the National Autistic Society in Derby we offer talks and seminars now and again regarding challenging behaviour and how to cope with meltdowns so check our Facebook page for future meetings www.facebook.com/NASDerbyBranch/
Here is some great information from the National Autistic Society website about meltdowns www.autism.org.uk/about/behaviour/meltdowns.aspx so I hope that helps a little.
We are all still learning more and more about emotions within the world of Autism and how they manifest and also making the people around us more aware how to help people if they realise someone is struggling with an overload of feelings. It does happen in so many different ways so we just need to be aware of this.
Please feel free to leave any comments below and let me know how you cope. Thank you for reading today and if you fancy joining me for some telly talk tomorrow it's Pass the Remote Sunday so come along!
Take care for now.......
Every Saturday will be about Autism, family and life.