Sunday, 24 November 2013

What Are "Meltdowns"?

The best answer I've ever heard to this question is from autisticdrift on tumblr (their tumblr is linked here).  Autisticdrift responded:

It’s different for everyone. Some people withdraw and get very quiet. Others appear to be really angry (throwing or hitting things, yelling, cursing). Others seem very sad/distressed (crying, sobbing, not talking or seeming inconsolable). Some people try to “disappear” by making themselves small, covering themselves with blankets or wedging themselves into a small hiding place. 
I don’t think there is a typical response across all people but I do think that each person has a response that is typical of them, if that makes sense.

For me, meltdowns start LOUD and ANGRY, with crying, yelling, throwing, and hitting.  Meltdowns are an out-of-body experience and I honestly don't comprehend myself or the situation when I'm having one.  I know I scream and cry and wail because I've seen it on video tape (my parents used to tape them when I was a kid because they didn't understand them and wanted to show my doctors) but I honestly have little recollection afterward.  I cry and I scream and I throw and then I shrink down into a tiny little quiet shell of myself.  I try to hide and make myself invisible.  

That is the progression of every meltdown I have ever had from early childhood until now.  

Meltdowns are a really unique experience and something that neurotypical individuals cannot usually understand.  

The most important thing I want to get across, though, is that meltdowns are not temper-tantrums.  Meltdowns are different.  Meltdowns are a response instigated by our unique neurochemistry.  They are not voluntary.  

When I am having a meltdown, I am not really there.