Handling Meltdowns As an Autistic Adult

Handling Meltdowns as an Autistic Adult

Meltdowns. For many high functioning autistic adults, they are their worst enemy. Many autistic adults can “pass” as neurotypical when making friends, having a job, and being in a relationship. However, many adults still don’t know how to handle meltdowns.

Meltdowns are an autistic person’s way of treating over-stimulation. When you feel over stimulated, you may explode to let all the emotions out. This can usually entail screaming, hitting something, or hurting yourself to get the frustrations out.

For those who don’t know about autism, or even for those who are familiar with it, this can be shocking. Adults aren’t supposed to show intense emotion, and an autistic adult may be in trouble if not just but embarrassed over the situation.

For many autistic adults, there is no buildup, either. It can happen suddenly, making it tougher to handle. Here are some ways we can help.

Handling Meltdowns As an Autistic Adult

Speak to a Counselor

If your meltdowns are intense, you may want to seek help. Even if they aren’t, every autistic adult is different, and thus every one has a different way of handling their meltdowns. A therapist or counselor may be able to help. Sites such as Regain can help you. Online counseling is great for adults who are socially awkward and can’t travel.

A therapist won’t be able to cure you, but you can learn coping mechanisms and learning how you can explain your autism to people who are unaware of what it entails.

Look for the Triggers

Autistic meltdowns are quite sudden, but many people have triggers. Of course, not everyone has the same triggers. Every autistic person’s brain is wired in a different way. Some people are triggered by loud noises, others by stress, others by something odd like a certain smell. Finding the triggers can help you minimize the chances of a meltdown. This is another reason why you should speak to a professional. They can help you find the triggers and allow you to prevent a meltdown whenever possible.

Feel the Rumble

A rumble is a part of the meltdown where someone is showing signs. It is different for every person, but signs of a rumble include:

  • pacing
  • talking faster
  • fidgeting
  • any other odd behavior

Some people have longer or shorter rumbles. If you find yourself rumbling before the meltdown, try going to a calming place. Take a few breaths or calm yourself down. People should realize your social difficulties and make sure they cater to them within reason.

Let Them Out

Sometimes, there is no way for you to stop it. It’s okay. It’s how autistic people release pressure, and you’re not a bad person for wanting to reboot. Some people think meltdowns are tantrums, but they aren’t. Family needs to be made aware and know about how to handle them. You should click here for more family tips.

Don’t Let Anyone Intervene

Some autistic people may want a hug or reassurance, but if you aren’t one of those people, let people give you space. After you’ve refreshed, you can come back better than ever.

Normalizing Meltdowns

Of course, it’s hard for people to realize that autistic meltdowns are something that’s beyond the control of many autistic people. Autistic people may lose jobs, relationships, and have other troubles if they have a meltdown. While autism awareness has given progress, there is still a lot of work to be done. Perhaps one day, there will be ways for an autistic person to melt down safely and not worry about ruining their reputation or being seen as an adult baby.

20 thoughts on “Handling Meltdowns As an Autistic Adult”

  1. What happens when you (me, who is on the spectrum) is angry but asks for space while trying to avoid a meltdown and the other person who is NT won’t respect your request? While telling you things such as “Only boys and men have autism, you’re making this up.” or “You don’t look like you are autistic … who told you that you were?” or “If you were really autistic you wouldn’t be able to work full-time. You’re lying.” So you leave the room to avoid an altercation and that’s wrong. If you argue, that’s wrong. If you leave altogether you’re just “running from the problem.” But when you flip out – which I have done more than once in 50 years – you’re essentially Satan personified. Also, in today’s day and age with the pandemic there’s really nowhere to go particularly in my state which currently is one of the most restrictive. I can drive around but then all I do is ruminate on the problem. There isn’t much to drive to and do so leaving the house feels pointless. I loathe victim speak but there’s no other way to describe it but how I feel when these things happen is that I can’t win. I’ll never have a relationship of any sort which will work out and it seems like NT’s enjoy finger pointing so I’m always the one to blame, apparently. Never even 50/50. Humanity seems pointless to me right now.

    • I agree, having nowhere to go for space and quiet has been making it even harder than usual. I think most of the time I’d be able to calm myself before the meltdown happened if it weren’t for the other person always there asking “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Did I do something wrong? How are you feeling? Why are you making that face? Are you mad at me?” and twenty other questions that I can’t possibly respond to. They don’t give me a chance to process anything, demand answers, and get upset when I don’t have any, and then I just lose it. I end up blaming them for not leaving me alone even when it had nothing to do with them originally.

    • I think you can have a relationship with someone who respects your need for space when you are melting down, and who is there when you are calm and ready to talk. But if a partner is not open and willing to do the legwork to be more understanding and compassionate….then at the very least a break would be a good idea. Nearly 6 months ago my relationship broke down due to exactly the same kind of intolerance and to be honest cruel treatment of me. This happened less than a month after our son was born. We are now at peace and coparenting fairly well, but still not back together. And I do t want to be unless he educates himself and develops better compassion.

  2. No acting out violently is not ok. I don’t care why. You don’t get to make me fear for my safety for any reason. Stim all you want, quirky behavior, fine. I’ll even defend you if some one is being a douche. But violence, nope. 911

  3. Guardians are constantly punishing me for my meltdowns, while constantly telling me they’ll chase me into my room or spray me in the face with a water bottle, when the meltdown is happening. They won’t comfort me either. Current punishments is I didn’t get any snacks this grocery trip.

  4. I’m 26 and was told I’m on the autism spectrum back in April 2021 and was told by my psychologist to get re assessed for ASD. I got assessed again in August. Now counting down the days to finding out the assessment results and report and hoping to get my clinical diagnosis finally. I’m currently self diagnosed autistic. many things seem to trigger me to go into sensory overload but only certain things trigger me to also have autistic meltdowns. Getting yelled at or called names by my “dad” triggers full blown meltdowns that take a while for me to come out of and calm down from. I don’t take confrontation well at all either.

      • Stop being an insensitive, narcissistic, irresponsible young adult, then your father won’t call you names. And yes, my son has Asperger’s. It’s his excuse for everything.

        • Stop being so judgemental and maybe actually hear the story before you assume untrue things and maybe you won’t have a problem. We can go back and forth all day, however I’d prefer to be mature about it. Would you like if someone was rude to you about something that really upsets you? I’m not trying to sound rude, however I just think that your comment was uncalled for in this case. Because what you said was very rude. This isn’t just “the general comment section” for just anyone. This is on a site about autism. Please at least have some common curtisy here.

        • Projection, much? Maybe your son is all those things, though I find it a little hard to believe coming from someone who says Asperger’s is “his excuse for everything”, but on what grounds do you call a stranger on a website a “insensitive, narcissistic, irresponsible young adult”?


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