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Norny
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05 Feb 2014, 3:01 am

I can't be bothered typing a long post so I'm going to cut my information down to few dot points (I could elaborate/include more thoughts if needed):


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First Set:

1. I've only seen videos of meltdowns in the form of an uncontrollable 10 minute onwards breakdown, apparently present in more severe forms of autism (usually non-verbal).
2. I've read that in a meltdown, individuals often bash their head against walls or seriously injure themselves in other ways.

Second Set:

3. I've read about other less severe meltdowns, but I struggle to distinguish how they are different from an NT having a bad day as descriptions are often limited or individual specific.
4. I've read that some people on the spectrum don't have meltdowns, but I'm not entirely sure why that is the case.

--------------------------------------------------


+ Based on point 2, where in the spectrum are individuals such as those located?
+ Based on point 3, personal examples/opinions and citations are nice, including the position you consider yourself to be on the spectrum.
+ Based on point 4, could individuals in question have meltdowns, but unknowingly refer to them as something else?


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wozeree
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05 Feb 2014, 3:19 am

Well I just made a post about this.

Mine are definitely related to sensory overload and being overwhelmed. That's all I can say, but I do still feel like it's a tantrum afterward, but when it's happening it's like a force squeezing my body.



bumble
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05 Feb 2014, 3:38 am

I don't know if mine are meltdowns as I don't know if I have an ASD. I am not entirely sure what I feel during one or why I've never been able to stop them completely. I just know that during milder ones I walk around ranting/talking to myself/yelling and during really bad ones I will hit myself on the head for some reason I don't understand (I just know I'd rather not do it as I don't want a concussion). On very very rare occasions (and these mostly happened when I was younger and why people said I had tantrums from hell and labelled me as a problem child) I have also been known to throw or break inanimate objects, kick things, hit things and head butt doors/walls (all whilst relentlessly screaming until I ran out of voice box to scream with) but I don't hit other people or critters,

I know they are triggered by feeling overwhelmed, that is why I have always called them my overloads. They are not specific to any one thing (ie there is not one particular thought that will always trigger them...it depends on whether I am overwhelmed in some say be it emotionally or physically...ie too many things to do at once, routines changes, too much emotional upset, too much noise in a supermarket etc). Long before I heard of ASDs. Whether or not I am an NT with a low tolerance level or whether I am someone with an ASD and related meltdowns remains to be seen.

Basically if people leave me alone whilst I am in one of my 'overloads' it will fizzle out on its own and I will return to being rational afterwards. I do not stay in a high state of anxiety or similar afterwards. I often feel like my body hit the reset button actually and I can feel much better (but slightly embarrassed over my behaviour if other people heard or saw it. Usually I try to keep it away from others if I can...I do not like others seeing me like that for a number of reasons). Mentally and emotionally, other than a bit of embarrassment, I just come back to normal after as though nothing happened. I may be tired and sleep for a bit but following that I just carry on pottering around doing my thing like normal.

It's one reason I'd hate ever landing up in a psych ward (never been in one yet) as I am rational in between my intermittent upsets/overloads and just want to get on with whatever ever my latest hobby is or whatever chore needs doing etc.



Last edited by bumble on 05 Feb 2014, 3:51 am, edited 4 times in total.

animalcrackers
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05 Feb 2014, 3:42 am

Norny wrote:
+ Based on point 2, where in the spectrum are individuals such as those located?


My diagnosis is HFA, and my meltdowns fall into your "first set".


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EzraS
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05 Feb 2014, 3:46 am

I think what stands out in autistic meltdowns is what causes them and their frequency.
NT's have meltdowns too and some people with ASD are not prone to them.
But most people with ASD have them and they are usually due to hyper sensory issues
and other stuff that goes along with autism.



bumble
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05 Feb 2014, 3:53 am

EzraS wrote:
I think what stands out in autistic meltdowns is what causes them and their frequency.
NT's have meltdowns too and some people with ASD are not prone to them.
But most people with ASD have them and they are usually due to hyper sensory issues
and other stuff that goes along with autism.


What causes an NT meltdown and what are they usually like?

Or more specifically have you got more detail on the main difference or perhaps something I can watch that shows me the difference.

Not to side track the thread, but I often prefer visual media in some ways, so does anyone have any links to good examples of a videos of an autistic meltdown verses an NT one please?



Norny
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05 Feb 2014, 3:54 am

wozeree wrote:
Well I just made a post about this.

Mine are definitely related to sensory overload and being overwhelmed. That's all I can say, but I do still feel like it's a tantrum afterward, but when it's happening it's like a force squeezing my body.


Yeah I read through the thread, and that's what actually inspired me to make this one.

I'll just use your initial post as an example:

wozeree wrote:
Last night my cat was getting under my feet and I yelled at him, then I saw that he had torn up his litter box and yelled at him some more (did not hit him, I wouldn't do that). He went under the bed and this morning he wouldn't even come out for breakfast, I had to pull him out and play with him for a while to get him to loosen up. He usually wakes me up in time for work and to feed him. And he's a really affable cat that doesn't play mind games!

Then today at work I had a ton of work with a looming deadline and I was yelling at people to get away and stop talking to me all day. I had to apologies to one of them I yelled so bad.

I hate these kinds of days. My plushy at work has been helping with the meltdowns, but today I just sort of fell apart. Oh yeah then our computer system went down and started yelling at my computer!

What a day! I don't like meltdown days, they feel like they might be taking days off my life or something. Yuck! And I don't like being mean!

I need some more meltdown avoidance tricks.

At least my cat is feeling better. And the woman at work is really nice and said she understood.


When I read this, I am interested and feel as if I can relate, but I can't really take much from it especially in terms of distinguishing between a meltdown and something a person without an ASD does. What I know is that you have bad days, and they sound like a bad day (or overload) that I might have had in the past - I don't really have any right now as all I do is stay home. I feel much the same when reading Bumble's description in this thread, with the exception that I can't really remember hitting my head.. maybe parts of my body, but as far as I remember I never wanted to injure myself seriously even when everything in my life was haywire and I felt horrible.

So basically, unless a meltdown is a 10 minute onwards complete out of control mental and physical fit, I can't really distinguish it from what anyone else can experience under similar circumstances. Maybe that's because I do indeed have meltdowns and just thought I was furious and assumed it was normal, I don't know.

@animalcrackers - What causes that to happen, and what exactly does it feel like for you?

-------------------------------

EDIT:

bumble wrote:
EzraS wrote:
I think what stands out in autistic meltdowns is what causes them and their frequency.
NT's have meltdowns too and some people with ASD are not prone to them.
But most people with ASD have them and they are usually due to hyper sensory issues
and other stuff that goes along with autism.


What causes an NT meltdown and what are they usually like?

Or more specifically have you got more detail on the main difference or perhaps something I can watch that shows me the difference.

Not to side track the thread, but I often prefer visual media in some ways, so does anyone have any links to good examples of a videos of an autistic meltdown verses an NT one please?


This doesn't sidetrack the thread at all, in fact that would be what I'm most after!


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EzraS
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05 Feb 2014, 5:18 am

bumble wrote:
EzraS wrote:
I think what stands out in autistic meltdowns is what causes them and their frequency.
NT's have meltdowns too and some people with ASD are not prone to them.
But most people with ASD have them and they are usually due to hyper sensory issues
and other stuff that goes along with autism.


What causes an NT meltdown and what are they usually like?

Or more specifically have you got more detail on the main difference or perhaps something I can watch that shows me the difference.

Not to side track the thread, but I often prefer visual media in some ways, so does anyone have any links to good examples of a videos of an autistic meltdown verses an NT one please?


I don't know all that. I've just heard the term meltdown applied to NT's by other NT's.
I found theses videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6VIo6_0l24
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH3jUDLmVlc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP2q3DDz41M
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9UKbrZ3p6U

Edit: one thing is that while an NT person might have a meltdown like once a year or whatever.
For a lot of us with autism is that it is something that happens to us on a regular basis - and that makes a big difference right there.



Last edited by EzraS on 05 Feb 2014, 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

Gizalba
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05 Feb 2014, 8:00 am

I would like answers to all your questions too :P so thanks for making this topic.

As for me, I am not even diagnosed, so who knows if what I experience are meltdowns. However the strongest symptom I have that suggests autism to me and others who witness my behaviour, are my outbursts that look exactly like a meltdown. It was this bit of a documentary I watched with my boyfriend that made him suggest maybe I had autism >
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_23z9yJAq0

That video is the closest thing I have seen to what I experience, although obviously that boy is severely autistic and not very verbal, so therefore I don't resemble him that much in general, I just resemble the key features of his meltdown. I think the key features that I share with that boy are the following:

- He doesn't look like he has control over his body
- His movements are jerky
- Although he is lashing out he doesn't look like he is intentionally trying to hurt anyone
- He looks to me to be in painful mental distress

I don't make the weird sounds he is making (I am not meaning 'weird' in a derogatory sense, but they are weird), but maybe the weird sounds are more common in more severe autism? I don't know. I tend to cry more than he is, and I scream.

Example of one of my outbursts:

I had been out all day with a friend, which I find very stressful in itself. I took her to the train station so she could go home, which was very busy, then I'd arranged earlier in the day for my mum to pick me up as I couldn't deal with getting the train with all my anxiety. However my mum was around an hour late picking me up, as she'd messed up her timings with doing other stuff. I panicked.

I knew I was about to explode if I didn't get to a quiet place quick, but when I sense myself about to explode I only have a matter of seconds to run to a quiet place before I lose control of my body, and being in a busy train station, people and noise everywhere, I couldn't escape in time. I curled up on the floor with my hands over my ears in an attempt to block in all out, and also because I know from experience that if I explode I am safer on the floor - less likely to run at a wall and bang my head on it.

But then well-meaning people started trying to interact with me to see if I was okay. I couldn't respond, when I'm like that it's like my brain shuts down, and if people talk to me all I hear is more noise, and it scares me. The person trying to get me to respond was the final trigger to send me overboard. My body jerks out, lashing out, hitting my head, banging my head. On this occasion because I was on the floor, my head banged hard against the floor over and over again. I scream and scream and cry and cry and I don't know where I am any more, all I feel is terror, white rage and pain.

I think that was one of my worst outbursts as it was prolonged by the fact that I couldn't escape the noise and chaos of the station, so it probably went on for a while (I'm not sure as I lose all sense of time when I'm like that). My mum had finally arrived halfway through my outburst. Afterwards she told me that the police had come and stood around me at a distance to ensure that the passers by and drunks (it was around 10pm) stayed away from me. A mental health nurse had also happened to be passing by and therefore had experience in knowing how best to calm someone in the state I was in, which was lucky. I vaguely remember her, and I am so so grateful for her kindness to bother to stop and help. Once I was more with it I remember her telling me that she wouldn't touch me, or allow anyone to touch me unless I said it was okay, and she helped me breath deeply to calm down. Eventually she managed to get me to stand up and slowly get to the door and then the police took me to a quiet office place, then the police drove me home once I could communicate what would make me feel safe. I couldn't go home with my mum as I was still very on edge and if I had another outburst in the car then it wasn't safe (which is why I always sit in the back of the car when my mum drives me anywhere, as a precaution in case I have an outburst). In the police car I felt safe as one sat in the back with me and I knew he could restrain me if needed so I wouldn't cause a crash. When people restrain me it terrifies me, but I'd rather be terrified than causing death or injury to myself or others.



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05 Feb 2014, 9:30 am

mine are exactly like the first two meltdown descriptions and am under the definition of severely autistic and low functioning.
mine are very explosive and have resulted in many incidents with the police,being restrained on the floor by them in both hand cuffs and full length wraparound leg cuffs,am not arrestable under uk law for these behaviors because am under the mental capacity act but can be detained in secure learning disability hospitals;which is exactly what happened in september and then december-after being on leave for one week.



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05 Feb 2014, 10:21 am

I hope I don't have any of those anymore. it is not anything I want to have. when I feel one coming on, I think of blood, and prison. than I try to go to a happy place.



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05 Feb 2014, 2:57 pm

I'm aspie and yes, I still get meltdowns (of the first set variety). Fortunately, I don't get them very often as I've become better at heading them off at the pass.

Mine usually involve a strong expression of the word "NO", some form of blow-up, and stomping off the set. Head banging or other similar behaviour may be involved.

When my wife sees me get "that look" in my eyes she know's I'm on the verge and will will start telling me to "calm down", "just breath" over and over....


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05 Feb 2014, 2:58 pm

I definitely have meltdowns from the first set, they started for me in adolescence but I've never grown out of them.

I had a meltdown this morning. I was having computer trouble and I needed to do something for work. I was feeling stressed and anxious and it resulted in a meltdown. I hit the computer (luckily it is still working), hit myself with a bicycle pump and my hand, threw a few things around, hit a cushion to try to stop myself from breaking something, bashed my head against the wall and attempted to strangle myself. Then after it passed, I brushed my hair and went to catch the bus as if nothing happened, feeling a bit shaky inside.

I have mild Asperger's and I suppose that's reflected in the fact I very rarely have meltdowns at work but can somehow keep them until I get home. It's not always successful - I had a major force 10 meltdown in October in public at a weekend event and lost some online friends. When I used to drink, I would have them when I was drunk and that wasn't fun either.

I always say if I am ever successful at suicide, it'll be because I was in the middle of a meltdown and was so angry at myself I did something stupid. So far the worst I've done is to knock my mother out when I was a teenager - I am not proud of it, my behaviour in meltdown has caused me a lot of shame. Now I'm an adult at least I only try to hurt myself. One of the things that causes the most relief for me in finding out about Asperger's is that my meltdowns actually have a physical cause - and when I'm doubting the diagnosis, the worst thing about thinking I *don't* have Asperger's is that I have these meltdowns and I *should* be able to control them but can't.



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05 Feb 2014, 3:18 pm

Norny wrote:
@animalcrackers - What causes that to happen


Being extremely overloaded and unable to cope....it definitely involves the fight or flight response for me.

Sensory overload is the most common cause (e.g. the sound of vacuum cleaners, painful clothing, perfume).

I can also get meltdowns from cognitive overload (e.g. inability to understand/be understood when it matters -- even if only to me; too much information that I need/desperately want to process and can't) and from emotional overload (just too much emotion), although it's not as common for me now as it used to be.

Meltdowns have become rare for me (generally measured by times per year, maybe per month in a bad patch, instead of times per day or week); I have gained more control over my life and my environment, more coping skills and more ability to recognize when I'm heading for a meltdown before it actually happens. (Also being medicated for ADHD has had the side effect of reducing them -- probably because it helps me learn and use coping skills and register when I'm starting to get overloaded, and also takes my baseline level of physiological arousal down.)

Norny wrote:
and what exactly does it feel like for you?


Have you ever over-filled a bicycle tube or a balloon? Part of it is like being the bicycle tube or the balloon.

You know how electrical wires can catch fire if you overload the circuit? Part of it is like that, in my brain.

Have you ever had a sort of electric feeling run through your body when you were startled? Part of it is sort of like that, except it lasts a lot longer at full intensity.


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06 Feb 2014, 12:32 am

Meltdowns are just one part of many traits that define where you are on the spectrum.

As for not having meltdowns the person might be less affected by sensory stimuli, low working memory, or has learned to control them or a combination of being less affected and self control.

Sometimes I feel like doing the meltdown things but they are not something I want to share with anybody who happens to be around when I feel overloaded. But I don't do it in private either very often. I don't know if not having meltdowns is

1. Who I am.
2. Is a result of me unhealthily repressing my true Autistic self.
Not knowing if the answer is one or two really bothers me.


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06 Feb 2014, 1:13 am

Regarding point two, the severity of a meltdown has less to do with the specific placement of an individual along the spectrum, and more to do with the emotional regulation capacity of the individual; people less able to control their emotions "appropriately" according to societal norms are more likely to have more severe meltdowns.

Regarding point three, I am fairly mild and don't often have meltdowns. When I do, the severity depends on the situation I'm facing; some days I only get warmed up, others it's like a tornado or a bomb. Mine are usually triggered by physical or emotional stress; when approaching sensory overload I get extremely anxious and have a hair-trigger response to all incoming stimuli. Every muscle in my body is tense, and I shake and tremble all over. If someone talks to or even near me, I will cover my ears or flap my hands and snap at them to be quiet, or, if it's just the environment in general that's causing the problem, I will try to get away as fast as possible (I've sprinted halfway across my school campus before on days when I couldn't stand being in a noisy or brightly lit building for one more second, hauling my textbook-laden backpack with me.) As far as emotional meltdowns, they only happen if I become overwhelmed, angry or frustrated, and they do involve a degree of self-injury. I've hurt myself kicking walls and cupboards before, as well as biting my fingers, beating my legs and slamming my head into my bedpost (though that brings me down pretty quickly because it hurts a lot.) The self-injury is mostly an attempt at energy release; my insides feel like they're on fire and I won't feel better until I attack something or someone, so I channel that rage upon myself. During these types of meltdowns, my speech will go downhill rapidly, and I'll stutter, repeat words, mentally lose words, and generally have a hard time making myself understood; the more stressed I am, the worse it gets.

Regarding point four, given the range of the spectrum, it's perfectly possible for certain aspies not to experience meltdowns. It's also possible that they do experience them, they just don't know that's what they are. Before I had ever heard of autism, I would have meltdowns that I just thought were standard bouts of rage that everyone got when put in an unfair or overwhelming situation. It's only looking back now that I realise few people would have that type of reaction to the comparatively mild things that might trigger emotion. For instance, the time I was eleven or twelve and my mother was irritating me in some way I don't remember. Before she went out, she handed me a plastic bag full of ground up vegetables to feed her birds with, and something she said pushed me over the edge. In an instant I was enraged and slammed the bag so hard against a nearby chair that it split and sent bird food flying everywhere. Most people would remember something that caused them to have such a reaction due to its severity, but I don't, because it wasn't a big enough thing to recall, I just remember the rage.


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