By Clara H
What are meltdowns?
These may look like a tantrum from the outside, but if you look at it from the perspective of your loved one, they are different. I think the main thing that separates the two is what causes them.
Tantrums are a way of expressing anger. For instance, when a child cries because they can't eat ice cream for lunch.
A meltdown happens when a person feels overwhelmed. Like maybe, they are surrounded by too many people.
Well, can't an overwhelming situation cause someone to be angry? Yes, but I still would think of that as a meltdown. As I said before, it's what triggers them to feel that way in the first place.
How can I recognize a meltdown?
You might not be able to tell if your child is having a meltdown or a tantrum. It can be hard sometimes. Ask yourself what could have made the person act this way. Think about what happened earlier that day. It may not necessarily be what happened right before they got upset. It could be something that happened hours ago, but they didn't fully process it until later.
Tears and screams are not the only way a meltdown could look. Sometimes the person may not cry or shout at all.
For me, this started happening more as I got older. As a kid, I would usually cry to express my frustration. Over time, I started doing it in other ways.
Here are some things that I do when going through a meltdown:
How should I help?
Most importantly, stay calm. Freaking out will not help and could make things worse. They may feel like they are in trouble, which will scare them. They may not be able to control what is happening to them. It's like their bodies are forcing them to be in this state.
Please help them get to a separate place. Preferably somewhere quiet, away from people, and doesn't have strong smells or bright lights. It's good for them to get out of the room that was making them feel uncomfortable so they can feel safe and avoid embarrassment.
Everyone's meltdowns are different. Depending on the person and on the situation also depends on what may help them the most. The next suggestions I'm going to give you are things that have worked in my own experiences. Please keep in mind that they may not all be successful for every single person reading this.
One thing that helps me is pressure. This could be putting a weighted blanket or a big beanbag over me.
My dog's bed is quite large, and recently I've been putting that on my legs. That may seem funny, but for some reason, it instantly makes me feel better.
Some people like tight jackets or long hugs.
Listening to music also helps me calm down. When the weather is nice, I like to put on my headphones and go on a walk. It makes me forget about what's going on in reality.
What kinds of methods have worked for you or your loved one? Maybe in your situation, stress balls or sitting in a dark room helps. Whatever it may be, let me know in the comment section.
What do meltdowns feel like?
From my perspective, meltdowns feel as if I am being controlled. It's like I have transformed into a puppet that starts when I'm feeling overwhelmed.
I can sense it taking over my body.
I never know how quickly I could reshape into something I'm not.
If the process is slow, then it is easier to getaway.
On the other hand, if it happens fast, I can have little to no time at all to take back the power.
Once I'm in no control of myself, I scream and cry because of fear as I struggle to fight it off.
I can't get rid of it by myself.
Someone or something needs to "cut the strings" so the imaginary puppeteer can no longer force me to do things.
Because meltdowns can vary from person to person, I decided to reach out to other people on the spectrum. I asked them how they would describe what a meltdown feels like from their perspective.
Here are some of the responses I got:
Do you like the quotes I added explaining meltdowns from other points of views? If so, I can do the same thing with future projects.
I can say much more on meltdowns, but for now I hope you have gained a better understanding of them. This is not the last you will hear me speak about the topic.
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