Autism and Meltdown

canstockphoto13659526.jpgBeing a person with some strong Aspie traits, I just don’t handle stressful situations well.  Fortunately, I don’t totally lose it as the word meltdown infers but I quit acting like an adult and instead am a panicked kid. In autism studies, these episodes are called meltdowns so I will call them that for the purposes of this post.

One of my most prominent stressors is criticism. I am plainly oversensitive. I often perceive my wife’s criticism as calling me a complete idiot. When those situations occur I frequently go into at least some level of meltdown. I start shouting back about how she doesn’t think I can flush a toilet without screwing it up!  Usually, when the episode is over I can evaluate what happened with a more adult view but that doesn’t ameliorate the damage done to both of us by these episodes.

From the studies I have read I know that over time, these types of situations alienate friends and peers. They have also caused marriage problems and even divorce.

My meltdowns for sensory episodes are less frequent as I just don’t allow myself to get caught up in them. Instead, I either avoid the causes or quickly flee the situation.  I don’t like crowds and especially people standing behind me. For that reason, I often shop in the off-hours. My photography helps with crowds.  I tell myself I am there to document the event and therefore manage to control my uneasiness more easily.

I know the severity of my personal meltdowns is much less than others on the spectrum. I am grateful for that and sympathetic to others who are worse than I.

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2 thoughts on “Autism and Meltdown

  • You are not alone R.J. I am not on the spectrum but I share those traits of oversensitivity, being uncomfortable in crowds, and fleeing a situation when I feel criticized. I feel a bit panicky and need to escape. I think these traits apply to shy and introverted folks as well as autistic. Not to criticize 🙂 🙂 , but I think sometimes you are reading too much into your actions…self diagnosing yourself so to speak. We could probably all study the “spectrum” and find characteristics that apply to ourselves. It’s like looking up symptoms of an illness on the internet and coming up with a list of dire possibilities when we really just have a cold. We all have tp cope with our personal demons…you are not alone.

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    • Hi Jane, how do you know you are not on the spectrum? I will soon be putting out a post about Autism in our generation. It is estimated that over a million of those over 65 ARE on the spectrum, but very few of them have been officially diagnosed. Maybe both you and I are on the spectrum but just never knew it? About 1 in 57 people are autistic and about 1 in 300 are deaf. I have not heard any sounds in 30 years now, but believe it or not, I was not officially diagnosed as profoundly deaf until I had an auditory exam about 5 years ago. I am just as sure I have many Aspie traits as I was sure I was deaf. 🙂

      If I showed hypochondriac symptoms in other areas I might agree with you. But, for the most part, I am very much the opposite of a hypochondriac.

      It wasn’t until the 1980s that Autism got much attention. It wasn’t because it didn’t exist but instead because it was never thoroughly diagnosed. But you are right, I shouldn’t call myself autistic and I try very hard to not do that. But since I have discovered dozens of autism type traits I have had all my life I do proclaim that fact.

      The “on the spectrum” phrase has come about because there is an almost unlimited variation from one person to another. Not everyone has the same characteristic or the same severity of symptoms.

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