Sat Meltdown



A few weeks ago, I found myself in a place that I felt uncomfortable in.

The signs were presenting themselves, but I was choosing to ignore it.

I was in stage one of my meltdown.

There are three stages in total.

Stage one is what’s classed at the build-up.

For me I was having an increase in the wringing of my hands and a hypersensitivity to my surroundings.

I think I was also having a panic attack, but I can’t remember.

I was too deep into the build-up stage.

The Three Stages of a Meltdown

1. Build Up

It may look like:

·     Walking in a different pattern.

·     Body posture (head down, head on desk, tense).

·     Become much more literal.

·     Change in voice tone.

·     Increase in wringing of hands/hypersensitivity to touch/picking at skin.

·     Become slower to respond or increase in vagueness.

·     Become more controlling, asking more questions and more rigid.

·     More stock standard answers (I don’t know, I forgot, I’m tired).

I was attempting to avoid the build-up by using all of my skills to try and prevent myself from having a meltdown in the office in the first place fearing judgement and people’s reactions.

2. Survival Mode

In survival mode they will use skills to try and keep a meltdown from beginning. Their coping mechanism is coming into play. It may look like:

·     More controlling of their environment.

·     Seek sensory input: repetitive actions, flip back on chairs, pacing, jumping on trampoline.

·     Sleepy, stay completely still and become rigid.

·     Unaware of others.

·     Run away, climb, escape, hide (under table, outside, etc).Top of FormBottom of Form

I must’ve been successful with number two because I did avoid it.

I shouldn’t have put myself in that position, but I did, and I can’t begin to apologise enough to myself.

3. Meltdown/Shutdown

In a meltdown the student is in panic mode and has no control and cognitive function. The student may not be able to respond and will use stock standard actions to make people move away and leave them alone (swearing, pushing, and hitting). 

I was at work, and I was slowly becoming overwhelmed to the point where my body was crying out for me to have a meltdown.

All I could hear was have a meltdown it’s what comes naturally to you as an Autistic person.

For me having a meltdown is like having an emotional avalanche that I have no control over.

For crying out loud it’s one of your Autistic traits.

I didn’t know what to do.

I was at a what I’m going to call an Autistic crossroads.

Do I have the meltdown or not?

I fought and fought with myself internally for quite some time.

I went back and forth until I had made a decision.

You see the there were two issues that I was facing.

One do I have the meltdown in the office in front of everyone like I’m meant to because as I say it’s the natural Autistic response to this.

Or do I suppress it because and here is where I hang my Autistic head in shame I’m embarrassed.

Yes I was embarrassed to have a meltdown because I was scared of other people’s reactions.

Eventually I managed to suppress it because embarrassment took over along with shame.

I swallowed my embarrassment and held my head up high and instead of being ashamed I turned it around and made it an educational moment.

if it happens again, I’m just going to let it happen and hope that someone picks up that it’s about to happen and they can provide me with the assistance I need and I won’t feel that I can’t be my Autistic self in that moment.

It is important to always remember that this situation is out of my control.

And that as an Autistic individual the next time that I am about to have a meltdown I’ll have enough respect for myself to allow it to naturally happen.

Since then I went back through my old blog posts and got my boss to email out the post. now everyone in the office (90 people) have some insight and knowledge if it happens again.

Carry on the Conversation

As always, I can also be found on Twitter:@AutisticNickAU and on the Autistic Nick Facebook Page

Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.


  1. I’m so glad I found this. I’m 56 and about a month into knowing I’m autistic. My meltdowns happen too often and I’m grateful to read about the experiences of fellow autistics. I don’t feel alone and I’m learning SO MUCH. Bookmarking this post to reread often. Thank you.


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