Aspie meltdowns can consist of screaming, yelling, rocking, withdrawing, flapping arms, flopping on the floor, crying, hyperventilating, singing, jumping, head banging, and much, much more. An aspie meltdown is not favorable for anyone involved, including the aspie, and really should be avoided most of the time.
It’s NOT a temper tantrum!
Aspie meltdowns are NOT temper tantrums although they can really look similar. The root of a temper tantrum is a power struggle – someone isn’t getting their way, usually a child (but many adults have them too – ever heard of road rage?) Temper tantrums are not desirable, either, but the triggers that prompt them are entirely different from the triggers that prompt aspie meltdowns.
In my article 5 ways to Avoid Aspie Meltdowns, I discuss various strategies to avoid triggering an aspie meltdown.
In this article, let’s discuss how to cause an aspie meltdown. Who would want to cause an aspie meltdown? NOT ME! If you do these things, though, you’ll surely have one on your hands!
- Insist on eye contact. Making eye contact is a very intense thing. If you’re an aspie, you know what I mean. If not, don’t believe me? Try holding eye contact with a perfect stranger (or really anyone) for more than 3 seconds. Now, try staring at a really bright light for 3 seconds – this is similar to how eye contact feels to some aspies. It’s intense, and actually PAINFUL for some!
- Regularly attempt to engage in lengthy, interactive conversations – that are not primarily centered around an aspie’s interests. Parents, friends, and spouses can make this mistake in an attempt to engage an aspie. Although it’s important to be engaged, most aspies are not comfortable with long conversations that require attention to details, emotions, body language, and other non-verbal cues.
- Start an argument when you feel ignored by an aspie (or any time). Many aspies are considered rude because they don’t show “reciprocity” which means they don’t take turns in conversations, and often route the conversation back to their own interests. Often, this is not actual rudeness, but a lack of awareness that their own interest aren’t mirrored by the other person. Or they’re feeling overwhelmed because of #2 above. It’s important to recognize this, and to even point it out, but getting angry and starting an argument is a sure fire way to overload an aspie.
- Be spontaneous. Aspies crave routine and structure because their brain is not as capable of processing sensory information as efficiently. Their bodies are in overdrive constantly, so the less change, the better. Therefore, changes in routines are exhausting and even frightening. Imagine being in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and getting lost. Bingo.
- Ignore warning signs. It’s important to know what kinds of triggers an aspie has and to pay attention to when these situations occur. Also, pay attention to signs of withdrawal, increased stimming (flapping, toe-walking, rocking, humming/singing, etc.). Intervene with sensory strategies that will calm the body – and that’s another article, altogether (be sure to register for “new post” updates).