It's a very good question: what is an Asperger's meltdown? Just like meltdowns will not appear the same for all individuals, coping with them will be just as diverse. First, we need to look at what causes a meltdown and what exactly one is. Next, we will look at how to cope with a meltdown. And Finally, we'll look at ways to defuse or minimize their effects and how to recognize cues that there is a meltdown coming on.
Meltdowns happen whenever an individual with Asperger's Syndrome feels overwhelmed and feels the need to mentally reset themselves. The process of doing so, and the amount of time this takes, varies for each individual and each meltdown. Various environmental factors can act as triggers. Lighting, smells, crowds, textures, and noises can all contribute to a meltdown. Whenever someone with Asperger's Syndrome experiences their triggers, the emotional response they have can leave them with a sense of overwhelming feelings that require them to reset themselves. How they accomplish this, is the key to contending with difficulties associated with their current emotional state.
Once a meltdown has occurred, it's important for the Asperger's individual to be in an environment that allows them to reset their brains. Sometimes, that can mean a quiet room where they can be alone. Listening to music, reading, or repetitive behaviors can also be helpful. Typically, the individual with Asperger's Syndrome needs to be by themselves while they are going through their meltdown. It's vital to remember that their brain is feeling overwhelmed by things happening around them and not because they are angry or “acting out.”
Meltdowns are going to happen, but that does not mean that there are not ways to minimize or defuse their effects. Keeping a journal of environmental factors or triggers and the feelings happening before and during them is a great way to determine the cues that a meltdown is coming on. Using this information, a meltdown prevention plan can be implemented. This may include learning breathing exercises, carrying items that help with repetitive behaviors (like stress balls), and finding places where you go that can be used as a place to retreat and be alone.
Knowing what a meltdown is, what can cause them, and how to cope with those triggers is a great step forward in living with an autism spectrum disorder. They are going to happen, but knowing why they happen helps everyone involved. The Asperger's individual and their friends and family can fully understand why a meltdown happened and that that individual needs to do to ensure their mental well-being.