AuTalkz: Meltdowns

A common mistake some people make is comparing an autistic meltdown to a temper tantrum in younger children.  Often when someone is younger, they don’t know how to properly express or work out frustration which occurs during the meltdown, so there could be screaming, crying, and even thrashing.


It might look like a temper tantrum, but it’s not being done for attention or to get something like a temper tantrum is done for.  It’s done because the child is overwhelmed and-or frustrated, and don’t know any other way to express it.

I can’t remember ever throwing a temper tantrum, but I would have these meltdowns differently (they do manifest in different ways with some people).  Though I would punch the wall or a pillow when I got frustrated, my meltdowns would often be in the form of panic attacks.

They still are, and if I’m really overwhelmed, then I’ll have a panic attack.  I might feel like making noise, but I’ve learned other ways of handling it.  Same with ones which come out of frustration; I’ll still want to punch a wall or kick my desk, or even throw myself to the ground and hide my face from the world because I’m having difficulty expressing that I’m really frustrated, but I’ve learned alternative methods.

Punching the bed or a pillow, for instance, or painting abstract with acrylic paint (if I’m of the mood to set it up).  Another big one for me is video games.  I’m not a fan of violent video games or FPS games, but even neurotypicals admit that it’s a great way to de-stress. I might go play a rather involved RPG like Skyrim, or the one FPS game I have (Borderlands 2) to defeat monsters and work my frustrations out that way rather than screaming or throwing a fit.

by: Nikki J.

Note: Nikki Jeanette is an artist with Aspergers Syndrome. She is the sole writer/artist in her series AuTalkz. Aspergers101 is proud to display Nikki’s work as it offers a first-hand insight into Autism and Aspergers Syndrome.

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