Many autistic people have shutdowns and/or meltdowns under stressful situations, but we all experience it differently. How do you know a meltdown/shutdown is coming? And what are the main things that can cause them for you?
ngl im kinda worried about the effects my autism is gonna have on my future? currently i love college bc not only am i getting support but i know exactly where i need to be at exactly what time, and its what ve been doing my whole life. but what about after that? i know i wanna go to uni but idek how uni works which stresses me tf out, and ngl uni is largely me procrastinating “going out into the real world” aka leaving the education system, bc then ill have no structure or anything.
and i cant get a job like? i quit my first job after only working for like 2 months?? because i cannot cope with that many things. and then having a social life on top? i want to be able to be spontanious and a socialite but thats never gonna realistically happen. if i cant get a job then what am i gonna do?
i want to live w flatmates my whole life bc thats just goals, but other ppl always wanna move out w whoever they marry or whatever, plus no one would want to live w me bc im so dependant on ppl? even on good days, i can never do washing up and im scared of the microwave?
anyway im tired and probs going into meltdown (i tidied my room today so its surprising i havent had one already tbh) so yea
one time i made a post about how autism is good & not a bad thing worthy of stigma & someone replied with something along the lines of “uh how about you talk to the parents of an autistic child and see how hard it is” like 1. uhh okay i talked to my mom 5 minutes ago she said we’re having lentils for dinner & 2. why in god’s name would you trust someone’s opinion on autism if they weren’t autistic especially if that opinion was opposed by most autistic people lmao
Girls slip through the diagnostic net, said Attwood, because they are so good at camouflaging or masking their symptoms. “Boys tend to externalise their problems, while girls learn that, if they’re good, their differences will not be noticed,” he said. “Boys go into attack mode when frustrated, while girls suffer in silence and become passive-aggressive. Girls learn to appease and apologise. They learn to observe people from a distance and imitate them. It is only if you look closely and ask the right questions, you see the terror in their eyes and see that their reactions are a learnt script.”
Girls also escape diagnosis, said Attwood, because they are more social than boys with the condition. Their symptoms can also be missed because it is the intensity of their interests that is unusual, and not the oddity of what they do.
All slides have a light blue background, and the text is written in blue rectangles with rounded corners.
Slide 1: The title is in white text inside a dark blue circle that is centred in the slide.
Sensory Overload And how to cope
Slide 2: The header is in a dark blue rectangle and white text, and the body is in a pale blue rectangle and black text.
Sensory overload has been found to be associated with disorders such as:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Autistic spectrum disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Slide 3: The text is in three pale blue rectangles that
go horizontally across the slide. All use black text. The last
rectangle has four smaller dark blue rectangles with white text inside
it for the four points. The text is centred in all of the rectangles.
Sensory overload occurs when one (or more) of the body’s senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment.
Basically it feels like everything is happening at once, and is happening too fast for you to keep up with.
Sensory overload can result from the overstimulation of any of the senses.
Hearing: Loud noise or sound from multiple sources, such as several people talking at once.
Sight: Bright lights, strobe lights, or environments with lots of movement such as crowds or frequent scene changes on TV.
Smell and Taste: Strong aromas or spicy foods.
Touch: Tactile sensations such as being touched by another person or the feel of cloth on skin.
Slide 4: A heading in two light blue rectangles with black
text, followed by a table with a dark blue first row that has white
text, and then alternating pale blue and white rows with black text.
(The table is not really a table, it is just a four-column list.)
Obviously, everyone reacts in differently to sensory overload.
Some behavioural examples are:
Irritability — “Shutting down” — Covers eyes around bright lights — Difficulty concentrating Angry
outbursts — Refuses to interact and participate — Covers ears to close
out sounds or voices — Jumping from task to task without completing Overexcitement — Low energy levels — Difficulty speaking — Compains about noises not effecting others High energy levels — Sleepiness/fatigue — poor eye contact — Overly sensitive to sounds/lights/touch Fidgeting and restlessness — Avoids touching/being touched — Muscle tension — Difficulty with social interactions
Slide 5: The header is in a dark blue box with pointy
corners and white text. The body is in a pale blue box with pointy
corners and black text.
There are two different methods to prevent sensory overload: avoidance and setting limits:
Create a more quiet and orderly environment - keeping the noise to a minimum and reducing the sense of clutter.
Rest before big events.
Focus your attention and energy on one thing at a time.
Restrict time spent on various activities.
Select settings to avoid crowds and noise.
One may also limit interactions with specific people to help prevent sensory overload.
Slide 6: This looks the same as the last slide except the text in the header is black.
It is important in situations of sensory overload to calm oneself and return to a normal level.
Remove yourself from the situation.
Deep pressure against the skin combined with proprioceptive input
that stimulates the receptors in the joints and ligaments often calms
the nervous system.
Reducing sensory input such as eliminating distressing sounds and lowering the lights can help.
Calming, focusing music works for some.
Take an extended rest if a quick break doesn’t relieve the problem.
Slide 7: Four light blue rectangles with rounded corners, stacked one above the other, with black text.
What if someone you know is experiencing sensory overload?
Recognize the onset of overload. If they appear to
have lost abilities that they usually have, such as forgetting how to
speak, this is often a sign of severe overload.
Reduce the noise level. If they are in a noisy area,
offer to guide them somewhere more quiet. Give time to process
questions and respond, because overload tends to slow processing. If you
can control the noise level, for example by turning off music, do so.
Do not touch or crowd them. Many people in SO are
hypersensitive to touch - being touched or thinking they are about to be
touched can worsen the overload. If they are seated or are a small
child, get down to their level instead of looming above them.
Slide 8: Similar to previous slide, only with three rectangles instead of four.
Don’t talk more than necessary. Ask if you need to
in order to help, but don’t try to say something reassuring or get them
talking about something else. Speech is sensory input, and can worsen
If they have a jacket, they may want to put it on and put the hood up. This
helps to reduce stimulation, and many people find the weight of a
jacket comforting. If their jacket is not within reach, ask them if they
want you to bring it. A heavy blanket can also help in a similar way.
Don’t react to aggression. Don’t take it personally.
It is rare for someone who is overloaded to cause serious harm, because
they don’t want to hurt you, just get out of the situation. Aggression
often occurs because you tried to touched/restrained/blocked their
Slide 9: Similar to previous slide, only with two rectangles instead of three.
When they have calmed down, be aware that they will often be tired and more susceptible to overload for quite awhile afterwards. It
can take hours or days to fully recover from an episode of sensory
overload. If you can, try to reduce stress occurring later on as well.
If they start self-injuring, you should usually not try to stop them.
Restraint is likely to make their overload worse. Only intervene if
they are doing something that could cause serious injury, such as hard
biting or banging their head. It’s a lot better to deal with self-injury indirectly by lowering overload.
Slide 10: The header is in a dark blue rectangle with white
text, and the other text is in a row of five dark blue circles with
white text. The text is centred in all shapes.
To summarise - Remember the 5 R’s
Recognise The symptoms of overload
Remove Yourself from the situation
Reduce the stimulus causing the overload
Relax Your body and calm yourself down
Rest Yourself as you will most likely feel fatigue.]
Autistics have a tendency to either not explain enough (and use “unnecessarily” complicated words and concepts), or to over-explain every detail. This is because autistic people have difficulty intuitively and unconsciously inferring the mental states of the people they’re talking to.
The key words here are intuitively and unconsciously.
Cognitive empathy can be learned. If I sit down and think about it, I can easily predict that a 35-year-old college professor knows what an “internet forum” is, or that the little boy I babysit who loves mobile games already knows what “Candy Crush” is.
But that takes time. In the moment, during the rapid back and forth of conversation, that level of intentional reasoning is far more difficult.
An autistic will often either speak entirely from her own perspective, leaving essential terms undefined, or she will default to explaining everything, even the details and backstory that her audience already knows and understands.
Often, the former applies to children, or autistic adults who have not been frequently and/or overtly criticized for their complex speech patterns (usually, these people are men in scientific or academic fields). The latter category—pedantic over-explanation—most often applies to adults, and especially autistic women, because it is the result of a person becoming aware over time of this difficulty with conversational theory of mind. It’s a natural attempt to compensate.
Many autistic adults have grown up in a world where their overly complicated explanations are constantly pointed out and criticized. A world where their audiences routinely ask for explanation of points that the autistics themselves may see as “obvious.”
Over time, an autistic may learn that they cannot accurately predict what their audience does and does not know.
This is especially common in women, who are more heavily and openly critiqued on their social skills, and their use of conversational empathy. This life-long evidence of personal struggle with inferring an audience’s prior knowledge means that the autistic adult may now explain everything “just in case.”
I am especially guilty of this. If a person does not interrupt me to say “I know” during one of my unnecessary over-explanations (which, I’ve discovered, is the case for most polite neurotypicals) I will ramble on 10x longer than I need to, explaining every single inconsequential detail.
…I’m that deadly annoying combination of incessantly chatty and “just in case” clarification. How am I supposed to know whether a person has heard of Bill Gates, or knows what a bonobo is, or understands the difference between biology and microbiology?
If I don’t stop to explain, I inevitably say something that my audience doesn’t understand, and I lose their interest, or worse, seem rude. But when I over-explain, I come off as annoying and condescending!
I can’t infer which things my audience knows and doesn’t know. But I can’t always rely on a person to ask questions when they don’t know a word, or interrupt to stop me from over-explaining.
While this may be true, and I appreciate the sympathy, it also makes it hard for me to forgive myself.
If everyone has trouble making friends, why am I so often alone?
If everyone is overwhelmed by loud noises, why do restaurants and concerts and carnivals scare me? If everyone forgets and misuses words sometimes, why am I often incapable of getting others to understand what I’m trying to say? Does this mean I’m weak? Does this mean I’m lazy? Does this mean I’m not trying? No.
Because you may experience something once, but I experience it constantly.
Something may occasionally bother you, but it is a constant obstacle for me.
When I tell you something is hard for me, and you tell me it’s hard for everyone… You are not helping.
You are planting seeds of doubt. You are telling me all the work I put into surviving each day is worthless, because I shouldn’t have to do that work at all. Please. Don’t.
do any other autistic / adhd / etc people have that problem where you forget what you were going to do so you walk around in circles, (subconsciously) hoping you’ll remember what it was just by looking at things that may trigger your memory? while that’s going on, you’re actually just daydreaming & pretending to care abt it??
So here is an important resource that everyone with autism should be aware of. I’ve been much more comfortable going out in public the last week knowing I have this in case anything happens.
These cards are made for free by the Disability Independence Group, and you can customize yours with your most likely reactions (I am most worried about going non-verbal in stressful situations, so I included that in my form, and they added I am prone to mutism).
Once again, these are FREE, and they can be a huge help in a situation you aren’t expecting.
I got this card after I went nonverbal in a very bad situation. I was yelled at and told I could talk, locked up, and put in an intensive unit with scary people that made things worse. I would not have expected this before, but it all could have gone much differently if I had this card to relay the necessary information. So for that reason, I’m spreading this and reminding you that if a situation like that is possible, you should get one. There’s no harm since it is free, and although I hope you never have to use it, it is always good to be prepared.