Meltdowns: How Autistic Humans Experience Crises

Sonny Hallett  medium.com/@sonyahallett This post is about what meltdowns feel like to me, what impacts they’ve had, and what I’m learning about them. Other autistic people may have very different experiences, but if you are autistic yourself, I hope you will find something relatable about my descriptions and illustrations, or something helpful or encouraging in the things I’m learning. If you’re not autistic, I hope this gives you some insight into some aspects of a different way of being, different ways that humans can experience crises, and how your reactions could help or hinder. —- I’ve been thinking about autistic meltdowns lately, and how little they’re understood. Too much of what society hears about meltdowns, and what gets written, is about autistic kids, their experiences related by parents and professionals. Of course, many autistic people have also talked about their meltdown experiences very eloquently, but as with so many aspects…

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Starting Points for Understanding Autism

Oolong oolong.co.uk Photo courtesy the author [image: Photo (light-painting) by the author: a spectral outline around a hand and arm, raised as if to flap.] I believe that the best way to understand autistic minds is in terms of a thinking style which tends to concentrate resources in a few interests and concerns at any time, rather than distributing them widely. I wrote in some detail about how this explains the observed features of autism in Me and Monotropism: A Unified Theory of Autism. Here, I want to distill what this means for living and working with autistic people, expanding on the six starting points for understanding autism that I identified in ‘Theories and Practice in Autism.’ I’m writing in the first person here, as a late-identified autistic adult who has worked and talked with many other autistic people in various contexts over many years. I believe that everything I…

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The World Is Such a Loud Place And It Seldom Stops Talking

Photo © dan_giles | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: A red lit-up mute button featuring a crossed-out microphone symbol.] Alex Earhart autisticallyalex.com Hearing is the sense that gives me the most trouble to the point that I often wish I had a mute button for the world around me. Sometimes I even wonder what it would be like to have a cochlear implant that I could detach when sound was just too overpowering. The world is such a loud place and it seldom stops talking. Some days are better than others. Sometimes my brain does a better job at filtering sounds toward the back of my mind, but most days the sound comes at me all at once in a jumble of confusing, overwhelming chaos. Each sound jockeys for position at the front of my mind as each insists I pay close attention to its deafening shouts. It’s an exhausting…

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The Protective Gift of Meltdowns

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © 2017, Maxfield Sparrow [image description: a turtle in the middle of the road on a hot, sunny day. His skin is dark with bright yellow stripes and his shell is ornate, covered with swirls of dark brown against a honey-yellow background. The turtle is rushing to get across the street and his back leg is extended from the speed and force of his dash toward freedom.] I hate meltdowns. I hate the way they take over my entire body. I hate the sick way I feel during a meltdown and I hate the long recovery time—sometimes minutes, but just as often entire days—afterward, when everything is too intense, and I am overwhelmed and exhausted and have to put my life on hold while I recover. I hate the embarrassment that comes from a meltdown in front of others. I hate the fear that bubbles up…