Most parents are familiar with a child’s temper tantrum and the disruptive, angry outbursts where the child demands attention, including getting their own way.
In contrast, when a child or adult on the Autistic Spectrum has a Meltdown, they are reacting to emotional overload, and their brain struggles to make sense of a situation or behaviour. Ultimately, a Meltdown is a loss of control brought about by changes to the routine or expected behaviours, resulting in the senses being over stimulated all at once. Explosion of emotions!
The Meltdown responses displayed by the Autistic person may include verbal expressions, of screaming and shouting or physical outward expressions of foot stomping, kicking and/or hitting out. Similarly, the adult or child may go inward and stare into space while making noises to cope within. There are no set rules of how a meltdown should look or play out.
A parent or close companion can try to predict how their child or adult will react, and being there to distract and comfort their child or adult through a Meltdown, is a great help.
When I am out an about with my child, I carry a card which states Autism Alert on it. This is useful in any situation where he has a Meltdown.