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Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

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Joined: 8 Oct 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 44
Location: United Kingdom

19 Oct 2019, 2:11 pm

I hear a lot about meltdowns in the autistic community, and I know that not everyone on the spectrum has the same traits but I just wanted to try clarify or get a clearer understanding on what meltdowns actually are.

Only a few times in my life have I ever lost control and shouted, swore, hit, slammed and threw things but I feel like MOST people can look back and find a time they "lost control", surely?

I get moments where things seem to rapidly stack on top of me and I can feel my top about to blow but I just chalk that up to anger? I imagine a meltdown is a specific thing in and of itself rather than just a sudden obscene about of anger?

Feedback would be greatly appreciated.


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Joined: 29 Jul 2015
Gender: Female
Posts: 775

19 Oct 2019, 3:54 pm

There are generally speaking two different types of reactions which occur when an autistic is overstimulated (or pushed past their breaking point)
1. Meltdowns - these can LOOK similar to a tantrum, but differ in one key way. They do not have a goal. When someone is having a tantrum, they do it because they want something. If/when they get it - they will stop tantruming.
When an autistic person has a meltdown, it can be caused by wanting something, things going "wrong", being overstimulated etc. . However, if that "thing" is fixed, the meltdown will continue. It is now out of your control - you did not choose to start and you cannot choose to stop.

2. Shutdowns. These can occur in the same situations, but rather than the reaction being outward, it is inward. It may look like a silent panic attack (rather than a fit or rage or a tantrum). It is not uncommon to lose your ability to speak during shutdowns or be "frozen" in place.

Not everybody has them, but that just about sums it up for how it is for me

Diagnosed with
F84.8 (PDD-NOS) 2014
F33.1 Major Depressive Disorder, recurrent, moderate.