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Meltdowns in Adults with Aspergers & High-Functioning Autism

Can an adult with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism have a meltdown just like a child with the same disorder? 

The answer is ‘yes’ – but the adult’s meltdown-behavior looks a bit different than a child’s. Under severe enough stress, any normally calm and collected individual may become “out-of-control” – even to the point of violence. But some individuals experience repeated meltdowns in which tension mounts until there is an explosive release.

The adult version of a meltdown may include any of the following (just to name a few):
  • aggressive behavior in which the individual reacts grossly out of proportion to the circumstance
  • angry outbursts that involve throwing or breaking objects 
  • banging your head
  • crying
  • domestic abuse
  • pacing back and forth
  • quitting your job
  • road rage
  • talking to yourself
  • threatening others
  • walking out on your spouse or partner
  • yelling and screaming

On the mild end of the continuum, the adult in meltdown may simply say some things that are overly critical and disrespectful, thus ultimately destroying the relationship with the other party (or parties) in many cases. On the more extreme end of the continuum, the adult in meltdown may attack others and their possessions, causing bodily injury and property damage. In both examples, the adult often later feels remorse, regret or embarrassment.

Meltdowns, usually lasting 5 to 20 minutes, may occur in clusters or be separated by weeks or months in which the Aspergers adult maintains his/her composure. Meltdown episodes may be preceded or accompanied by:
  • Chest tightness
  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Increased energy
  • Irritability
  • Palpitations
  • Paranoia
  • Rage
  • Tingling
  • Tremors

A number of factors increase the likelihood of experiencing a meltdown:
  • A history of physical abuse or bullying: “Aspies” who were abused as kids have an increased risk for frequent meltdowns as adults.
  • A history of substance abuse: Aspies who abuse drugs or alcohol have an increased risk for frequent meltdowns.
  • Age: Meltdowns are most common in Aspies in their late teens to mid 20s.
  • Being male: Aspergers men are far more likely to meltdown than women.
  • Having another mental health problem: Aspies with other mental illnesses (e.g., depression, anxiety disorders) are more likely to have meltdowns.

The meltdown is not always directed at others. Aspergers adults who experience meltdowns are also at significantly increased risk of harming themselves, either with intentional injuries or suicide attempts. Those who are also addicted to drugs or alcohol have a greatest risk of harming themselves.

Aspergers adults who experience meltdowns are often perceived by others as “always being angry.” Other complications may include job loss, school suspension, divorce, auto accidents, and even incarceration.

If you're concerned because you're having repeated meltdowns, talk with your doctor or make an appointment with someone who specializes in treating adults on the spectrum (e.g., a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, etc.).

Here's how to prepare for an appointment with a professional:
  1. Make a list of all medications as well as any vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  2. Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  3. Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  4. Write down questions to ask your doctor. Preparing a list of questions can help you make sure you cover everything that's important to you. 
  5. Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.

There's no one treatment that's best for Aspergers adults who experience meltdowns. Treatment generally includes medication and individual or group therapy. Individual or group therapy sessions can be very helpful. A commonly used type of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, helps Aspergers adults identify which situations or behaviors may trigger a meltdown. In addition, this type of therapy teaches Aspies how to manage their anger and control their typically inappropriate response using relaxation techniques. Cognitive behavioral therapy that combines cognitive restructuring, coping skills training, and relaxation training has the most promising results.

Unfortunately, many Aspergers adults who experience meltdowns don't seek treatment. If you're involved in a relationship with an Aspie, it's important that you take steps to protect yourself and your kids. Any emotional and/or physical abuse that may be occurring is not your fault.  If you see that a situation is escalating, and you suspect your partner may be on the verge of a meltdown, try to safely remove yourself and your kids from the area. 

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

85 comments:

  1. Yup! It may look different to the observer, but a meltdown is a meltdown.

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  2. I really appreciate this post. Many of us adult aspies as children were not understood and became survivors, figuring out how we personally tick hiding from a system we don't quite fit. It's nice there is a lot more understanding and help.

    When I was a child I had intense firery tantrums. As an adult I'm defiantly more composed and am discovering healthier coping outlets to place my frustrations and recognizing when it's building up.

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  3. totally...and often without warning, in my case

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  4. I had a few meltdowns, and my last one led to my walking out on my job and apartment, and never returned, since then I had myself assessed and am now offcially an Aspie.

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  5. What if you're pushed to the breaking point over and over, and it makes no difference to anyone that you're breaking inside? I tell people to leave me alone when I am getting stressed, and they all of the sudden follow me around and ask questions, bother me, and harrass me. I say two more times to please leave me alone, I need a break. I make it to my quiet place, but they follow me there.

    And it's somehow MY fault if I cannot control any possible violence to myself, someone else, or property? When all they have todo is respect me? Bullshit. I am the one being abused, and I have nowhere to go. I have been suicidal for YEARS, but I live with it, containing it always.

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    1. I used to feel that way but now I am 35 years old with a wife and 2 kids and i can not blame any one else for my meltdowns but my self im trying out meds i don't want to hurt my kids and my wife i love them

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    2. I'm 47. What if meds and everything you ever tried doesn't work? What's next? Suicide. I just don't know.

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    3. "heal your own pain" website might work

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    4. I feel the same way as Andrew and I was also bullied severely as a kid. I'm permanently and constantly pissed off at the world. Seems to me that everyone around me is a dumbass yet I'm supposed to be happy about the miserable state of the world. Perhaps ignorance is truly bliss...

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    5. I am constantly pissed off at the world and everyone in it. I was also severely bullied as a child. HATE would be a good word to describe how I feel. And I agree with Andrew - nothing works. How does one "fix" their personality? Die, I guess.

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    6. My experience with an Asperger family members and colleagues is that their meltdowns are always somehow justified. They're always the victim. Enough.

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    7. I feel the very same way as Andrew. It appears all help goes to children who are aspies/autistic. Those who came through life and receive a late diagnosis seem to be invisible. In my case, after waiting many years for help, I now believe there is no help. Im at a loss

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  6. I had one Saturday.. :-( and after reading this I think what happened Tuesday was one as well.

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  7. I recall a particular meltdown after reading the article , which was distressing for my then partner and emotionally distressing and physically exhausting for me . It also sadly played a part in ringing the death knell for that relationship .
    It is a painful memory I also thought of them as somewhat like a non physical tornado from out of nowhere and chaos inducing .

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  8. I am dating an aspie, and his melt downs are not usually violent, just frustrating because I can never figure out how to handle his meltdowns. I have difficulty reading him, and the last melt down he had i broke down and started crying myself. I eventually realized what was happening and regained control of myself so I could calm him down, but this is the person I am hoping to spend the rest of my life with. I love him and want us to work, but if that's going to happen I need to learn how to handle the meltdowns better. Any suggestions?

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    1. Just give him space don't nag him or keep asking questions just give him space and time to process his thoughts.

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    2. RUN!!!!! IT WILL NEVER CHANGE!!! RUN!!!

      This is from a 47 year old man who hurts his family constantly.

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    3. I know answer a 2 years old question is a bit too late, but if anyone is having the same problem, you should have a "red code". Idk if other Aspies are the same but I usually know when I'm about to meltdown. Like the article said: irritability and tight chest, hard to breath... I know it's building up but still have enough will power to control myself. At that time I only want to be left alone. If your partner can feel it too, then you should have a code for "I want to be alone for a while. It's not because of you. I just feel under pressure and I need a break." Texting or any kind of writing communicate is much more welcome than any kind of verbal communication at that time. Let him know that you understand what's happening to him and will wait untill he's ready to talk again, and then leave him alone.

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    4. Thanks for the two years later reply, it really helps me. I am in the friend's situation and am trying to work out a strategy for dealing with meltdowns. Right now I am researching if there is anything we can do to help, besides the already figured out "giving space" strategy. For instance, before a meltdown or when I sense a crisis or difficult situation I try to offer practical or logical solutions. Is that helpful or could it be annoying? When I sense there is nothing I can do to help I say "I am sorry, text me when you can or want, and if there is something I can do let me know" and back out and wait. Is it ok?

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    5. Writing from my partner's account. He is 31 and an Aspie. I am 23 and I have severe anxiety but have been able to cope very well now. I will admit the hardest thing for me is to let him run off. This has lead to physical altercations that could have been avoided but wasn't because I wanted to be "in control". Yes, sometimes the ONLY thing to do is let them walk off. If they want to talk, then talk to them. If you need to walk away then exercise that right.

      Texting helps in small doses. Do not over text and blow up their phone though. My partner can be suicidal at times because of depression so i do have a really hard time leaving him alone. I do it in hopes he doesn't selfharm but there was a relapse...he cuts. All I can say is if you can do your best to avoid a meltdown then do it...Once they start sometimes it feels impossible to stop that moment. Breathe. Let them know you are there for them. Everyone is different but this is how I handle them. He also smokes cannabis and is not on any meds. Former alcoholic, we do not drink except for a couple of ciders here and there. And even then that is rare. We have come along way...I hope you people out there do not give up!! He is an amazing and highly intelligent man. He provides me the best of company and I hope to be with him until we leave this world. 3 years and counting. Ask me any questions you may have and I will speak of my experiences. I am no expert. Just a woman in love with a man who happens to be autistic. :) -Sapphire


      You are doing well. I hope this answer was not too late and that it helps someone.

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    6. indead... texting in small doses! My verbal explosion doesn't stop with texting... and if I receive to much text during a meltdown, I want to throw away the phone or laptop. So... texting is not always an good option.

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    7. Sapphire, I could really use your help with my autistic boyfriend. Please inbox me, if possible. I'd truly appreciate it.

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    8. I assume it's too late but hear me on this if it isn't. ANY behaviour you see in any person before you marry them - and this includes disability related behaviour as well - will intensify once you are married because the person feels safe with you at at point and can let it all hang out, so to speak. If an escalated version of his behaviour is OK with you, then go ahead and marry the man, with no entertainment of delusions of changing him...best of luck!

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  9. pure embarrassment and shame. I ruined almost every relationship I had with these very rare but very remembered and forever used against me meltdowns. can't say I really blame them just wish I remembered what I said. iq's are over-rated when it comes to this- mine and especially theirs- the professionals.

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    1. J, please do not be embarrassed. You have a condition that means , at times, you cannot control your anxieties/stresses. Of course you might be behave inappropriately- ANYONE who is stressed is inclined to do so. When I watch my son go though the same it breaks my heart and I wish could help. You must accept that meltdowns are going to be something you have to live with, but you will get through each one. Do try to find strategies to help you, sometimes a slow breathe with my son, it helps. Othertimes I get well away because he needs space. Good luck & best wishes

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    2. The problem I face is she does not know she is. Every thing is black and white. It is not black or white or right and wrong. It JUST IS clearly black and white. It is see something and SAY IT no idea of being polite or sensitive or letting something go just criticism criticism Can not be persuaded it is criticism it is if she thinks something of course just say it. It's dishonest to hold it back. Can't be persuaded there is such a thing as Opinion Opinion would mean that there was more than one view ie black or white. When of course there is only black and white
      No answer to this. But leave

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  10. I learned later in life (like three years ago) I was diagnosed with autism and I just blew up at my roommate. My caregiver tried to contain me but the roommate insisted that I wasn't the person to talk to concerning Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and such. When he works on audio stuff he goes all like "I went to school for this." When in fact I went to school for art... He openingly devalued my opinion (after many little scuffs before hand) and I just blew it. Normally I'm really quiet and skiddish (I'm five seven in a world of six footers) and I speak slowly and at reasonable volume. I may be seen as a tool but I just like being nice.
    Anyways... I blew up and shouted (I never shout) the word "F*** YOU!" to my roommate for like a minute straight and then took 20 Ativan and two trazadone. My boyfriend stopped me. I feel like the most horrible thing to ever live, and I'm including viruses in this, I just so awful and I'm still recovering. I'm still shaking. :-(

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  11. Hi, I live with my (maybe ex) partner who is an aspie. We are currently having serious difficulties in our relationship in regards to them have meltdowns and their aggressiveness towards me as a result (they will not accept that it feels like this is aimed towards me even if it isn't- even though they get upset/angry if I shout around them). I seriously need some help/guidance in regards to this as I seriously think this could be the end of our relationship if we cannot find a (permanent) solution. I love them more than anything in the world but sometimes I cannot cope with these issues due to personal difficulties with other people being aggressive/hurtful towards me.

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    1. I feel you'll need to have support from others in relationships with aspies. I feel for you as it can feel very lonely without enough hugs coming your way.

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  12. My Daughter is the one with the meltdowns, although some are just angry outbursts. She is 21 and has had these outbursts/meltdowns her whole life. Now that she is an adult, it is more difficult for me to "take" these attacks, and keep my own self respect. I actually called a suicide hotline myself yesterday and am desperately working to understand her better so I don't push her buttons. She lashes out when she feels I am not respecting her. She has good friends and can hold a job, just can't drive yet. The bad days are really bad and it is amazing I live through the tough moments, especially the ones in public like the two in stores today. Trying to get her to see a Psychiatric place that specializes in Autism...waiting for them to approve her. I feel like she hates me much of the time, and I feel like a prisoner in my own house. She doesn't like me to be away because she gets lonely. I need to reach out to others who either understand her or me.

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    1. Hi there H MB, I feel like your post here just read my mind. My daughter is twenty next week. Her meltdowns that she's had all her life are fewer and far between and way more intense. She holds down a job but does not drive. She is very reliant on me in spite of my efforts to build her self-sufficiency. When I travel she can "hold it together" at job but does nothing at home to pull her weight. I come home to complete distress - her patient sister has done all the housework, her room is a mess, and within twenty four hours she melts down. Last night was the worst. They are becoming so much more intense and almost violent in her physicality as she is taller and heavier than me now. She repeats phrases, flaps her arms and begs for me to hug her and when I do, she physically pushes me away. If I do manage to cover her with the weighted blanket or calm her down, anything could trigger her again. She gets angry and tells me "I have an angry look on my face" and if I try to leave her alone to give her space, she flies into a rage and repeats "mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy" until I cannot get her out of the cycle. If I offer to sit with her until she calms (which she insists) she cries about me being angry at her (I am not, but I'm scared/tired/frustrated) or she spews hateful things about me not loving her or that I must wish she'd never been born, or clearly I love her sister more. All of these things are not true but she manages to come up with the most cruel and hurtful things to say, no matter what I say or don't say to her. Last night it went on for over three hours and the household was in complete chaos. I felt so trapped. She was at one point running in circles and crashing into walls, I felt so sorry for her. By the time it was over, my head felt like a tight vice was squeezing it and I had to throw up to release the pressure. I am at the end of my rope, nothing I do is right. Her psychiatrist gives us suggestions and things are better after an appointment but now she refuses to go or twists the psychiatrist's words or advice later. I am struggling to discern whether this is just her Aspergers sometimes and not a bigger disorder developing? Is she bipolar or depressed? She refuses to take part in diagnostic tools with the therapist. I am struggling with the fact that she can basically function at school and work and then directs these meltdowns at me for mostly innocuous reasons. As a parent, I now can't ask for basic things like picking up her room or helping with minor chores because she might melt down... I feel she is using them as a constant threat or manipulative tool to avoid talking responsibility for daily life. She also always blames me afterward: I didn't hug her enough (even if she pushed me away), I talk too much (even though she won't let me leave), I looked at her funny or meanly given though I may have just been intensely watching a show on TV and not even interacting with her). God forbid she falls or trips, then all hell breaks loose. I'm at the end of my rope. I love her intensely but the meltdowns are taking a toll on me. I am the one taking anti-anxiety meds. It's like having a three year old sometimes.

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    2. Why not find a group home or place for her to live with her peers? Obviously, she can function at work and school. She can hold down a job. Period. It is now time to let her go before she tries to kill you or your other child. I know. My sister tried to kill my mother.

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    3. This is very hard, but she can work and support herself. She is making your life and her sister's life hell. Look into a group home. Evict her if you have to before she kills you like my sister tried to kill my mother before the police took her away and finally did what my parents could not do. I know you love her, but she needs to take care of herself because you will not be around forever.

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  13. yeah... my problem is my parents never thought I had asperger's, only dhd, and I have such a cognitive deficit and executive function problem, PLUS my natural personality traits of being a libra sun, virgo moon, scorp rising, that I just... I was in terror most of my life, and felt alone, becuase whenever I tried ot tell ANY ADULT AUTHORITY FIGURE something was wrongf wiht me, in the best way I could, they didn't pay attention. I was alone, and very angry, even though i had parents and school and a doctor. ;my dad, who has asperger's, can get SO LOUD and scary when he yells... I'm 30, and still live at home. I had to take ritalin for my adhd... but it made my nerves ten billion times worse,so bad I licked my lips as a child till they were raw and bleeding. ;( He msut hve scorpio rising too, though, because he is so scary. he thnks I'm worthless when my meltdowns and his conjoin... it's not pretty. one day, somebody's gonna die of nobody helps us. And it won't be anyone's fault. that's the sad thing. my mo mchased me into my closet once after a fight, screaming that I should stop acting autistic. :O My dad SCREAMED at me once (scorpios look scarier than they think they do, hence my abject fear) becaues I couldn't understand my homework one night in elementary school. I'm no picnic either. we need help, not being treated like retards by EVERYOne we've ever tried to get help from. ;( sad right now. Anybody would feel paranoid after all that and ritalin and being bullied in school and your parents not understanding or helping and making fun of you and yelling, saying all the while thatthey love oyu. My mom sat on the couch once and plotted against the neighbors suddenly, one day, when was ten I think... i suddenly looked at her and was very afraid. I didn;t recognize her... after year ten, I realized I was completely alone in the entire world. nothing much has changed. but I'm still here god damn it. I trained MSELF to think around my issues... and STILL it isn;t enough. But I'm here. god damn it I'm HERE. Be well my friends... be well, and know that I love you, even if no one else in your life does. Can't do much about it becuae I need to be alone, but can't be due ot other needs.. but I DO love oyu. It won't always be like this for us. Take heart. ;)

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    1. You are 30 years old! Go and take action and get some help! Parents do the best they can,sometimes they don't make the right decisions,like Ritalin,but you need to be an adult and get help!

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    2. It can be very very difficult being parented by Aspies.....I have found adult children of (usually undiagnosed) Aspies often have separation anxiety and emotional insecurity , ADD, bit like complex developmental trauma.....because of problems with recognising the distress and emotional needs of the baby and child.....some good kind informed therapy and some letting go of blame would be helpful...animals are good Pets are very healing and give the unconditional love without words....

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    3. It can be very difficult parenting an aspire, period.

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    4. @Victoria Waters...
      (Again, noticing this comment is way late, but if it helps someone somewhere, it's worth saying...)

      That comment was very ableist and hurtful.

      I'm 31. I can't live on my own. I can't cook for myself, or leave home alone, can't make appointments for myself, cannot hold a job, and most people aren't patient enough to befriend me, let alone love me. It makes life extremely difficult and complicated.

      To suggest a person with Asperger's just "be an adult" and "go take action", because you don't personally understand what they're going through is offensive, and basically bullying. Please don't ever say this.

      I hardly ever comment on message boards, because social interaction is so difficult and painful for me, but that comment was so inexplicably insensitive, I'm utterly dumbfounded.

      Please understand that we may have issues with things that seem very basic to others. We are already self conscious of these things, and being told to basically just "grow out of your autism" is heartbreaking and frustrating. And I promise you, it will never better the situation.

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  14. I have meltdowns. I just had one about 20 min ago. It was embarrassing actually and brought on by the fact that I misplaced a vacuum part. :/ I always knew growing up that I was different from my peers...just didn't understand why. Sometimes now, I wonder if I am an aspie. Is there a way for me to find out? I am 31 years old and mother of one child(a daughter years) I would like to know what is going on with me.

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  15. I have a number of patients who are high functioning aspies diagnosed late in life. Their meltdowns frighten others and are very distressing for them.. It is pure unfettered emotion expressed with incredible intensity through whole body, expression and voice.......each person has a different characteristic meltdown signature.

    Once it is over, (and I have not found it responds to medication) the pertson feels "rebooted" like clean slate....I think they go back to left brain functioning without the emotional buildup and can be entirely logical.
    This makes it look like its under their control but its not. At the same time they dont realise how it affects others. They do have physical exhaustion...aches and pains from muscle tension and become incredibly flushed with an autonomic outpouring.
    Just my observations.. I was wondering if clonidine helps....any experience here from Aspies?

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    1. My Aspie friend would benefit greatly from some cognitive therapy, but he apparently doesn't know he has Asperger's and is very anti-diagnosis or categorising of anything health-related. One of his verbal meltdowns with me subsequently proved to be about his definition of "health issues", while I thought I was having a philosophical discussion of how interesting it is that we all have our own shades of meanings for words! As I had a childhood history of abuse, I found his 2 meltdowns quite frightening and upsetting but now I know they weren't really directed at me as a person, just the content of the argument, I don't think he's psychologically dangerous for me. However, if he knew his triggers [now I know, I can avoid them or steer around them], he might be able to divert himself, leave the situation or warn others. How can I ever get him to a stage where he might seek some assistance?

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    2. PurpleVases - You have described my 26 y.o. son very well. Just went through another meltdown with him and decided to try Google to see if this is typical of adults with ASD, so feeling a little better. What's most difficult is my son has NO CONCEPT of how these meltdowns hurt. He says hurtful things OR everything that comes out of his mouth has tension and/or anger behind it. When it's over he seems absolutely clueless about the damage he's done and then expects everyone to just go about their business unaffected.

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    3. My daughter as well - it's like the buildup releases and she can wake up the next day and generally mumble an apology to nobody in particular and then expect us all to be light and breezy in spite of the hateful things she has said (which I think she might not even remember or she pretends not to). She just goes about her business and its like she has rebooted her brain, but without realizing the toll it has taken on everyone, especially me because I'm in the thick of it while it's happening. She also has NO CONCEPT as to what this is doing to the rest of us. I worry that these are signs of being so completely self centred that she will never have a healthy adult relationship.

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    4. Do not be so quick to assume that it's a reformat as well as a reboot, to continue the use of computer terminology (a reboot allows the system to start fresh without the slowdown and stresses of memory usage from the last session; a reformat deletes all data on the drive to be filled up again. Personally speaking, I am fully aware of the horrible things I've said and done once I recover from my meltdowns - my mum in particular has expressed shock on multiple occasions that I wake up 'as though nothing has happened'.

      The thing is, I -know- that I did horrible things last night. But I also know that they are not actually representative of how I feel about my family. I also don't know how to 'fix' what I've done or to actually express what I really feel. So - yeah. I mumble an apology and try to just go about my day. I know 'you' (family) aren't okay. I don't know how to make you okay. I don't know if that would even work, because from where I'm standing another episode is inevitable eventually, maybe for the stupidest of reasons, and I'll just hurt you again.

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    5. Have you and your family seen a psychiatrist? I'm worried that you think you may hurt them again. To make them okay is to go see a professional to stop hurting them.

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    6. @Saucy: Calling your daughter "self centered" and focusing on what her neurological condition, which she has NO CONTROL over, is doing to *you*, with no concern that I can see for her wellbeing, only shows that YOU are the self-centered one.

      Complaining about an autistic person's meltdowns because you have an issue with them is like complaining about their eye color. It's something that we literally CANNOT control.
      If your daughter were paraplegic, I'm presuming your main issue with it would be how much of a pain dealing with a wheelchair would be for *you*.
      I hope that in the year since you made that post, your daughter has found a better living situation, since you obviously lack the wearwithal to be parenting a special needs person.

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  16. I have recently realised that the friend I "diagnosed" as having Asperger's has classic "meltdowns". I didn't understand why small things were leading to gigantic arguments and then him not speaking to me for (up to 6) months! I thought, from my own experiences with many children and teens on the autism spectrum, that HFAs no longer had meltdowns, but I just hadn't seen any. It's taken 2 arguments over the personal meaning of common words for me to realise what happened. However, it's been 5 weeks and he still won't speak to me or answer emails- and I haven't pestered him either. I wish there was some way of discovering if any progress is being made as it's quite depressing for me. I suppose he may have "rebooted" and be perfectly happy with the situation but there is no way for me to find out as all his friends have cut me off as well. Difficult times.

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  17. Can anyone offer me advice? I was recently on the receiving end of an Autistic outburst at my place of employment. The man had what I can only describe as an "Incredible Hulk" moment, clenching fists, shaking all over and screaming at me. I filed an HR incident report and was told " disciplinary action will be taken. I have to work in the same area as this person and I am terrified that it will happen again as he has a history of outbursts, 10-15, previously. I was trying to help him, giving him information that he needed in his new position, a highly stressful one, and everyone who was around us are just waiting for it to happen again. What am I/can I do to protect myself from a future outburst ?

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    1. There are a lot of places to get help as an NT, please go there!

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    2. I went to Human Resources and they were of no help, I need help as I am afraid that the person I work with who has Aspergers will have another outburst in the workplace as he has already had 10+. Where do I turn to next?

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    3. Keep a diary. And of what they are about. They shouldn't be in a position of human authority.

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    4. Tina, my name is Justin, since you have gone to the trouble of searching for an answer, I feel you are well meaning and honestly trying to help the greater good in your work place. I hope you have found a resolution for your problematic work associate by this time. If not, I would suggest that this person may have an additional disorder besides ASD, and that the interaction of multiple conditions, makes them very good at their job 95% of the time. However, speaking from experience, as one who has been the perpetrator of many different levels of socially inappropriate behaviour, due to many reasons, it is never completely your fault or responsibility. I am very sorry for my past meltdowns, and have taken every precaution possible, and even some that have been unnecessarily restrictive to myself socially, to prevent or mitigate the severity and frequency of such in the future. There is no easy way to fix this problem, it is highly likely that, like me, this person may not be the best personality in a high stress situation, able to sense the problems very accurately, but unable to find a way to effectively keep everyone, including themselves happy. Your input, necessary and helpful, even given in a positive well meaning way, seems to have triggered a memory of an emotionally charged experience, the resulting display being the physiological effect of an adult struggling to restrain the complete neural bypassing of inner social filters, unveiling part of their true feelings of frustration for a short space in time. The best course of action may be to simply keep reading more about the condition that you know or suspect that person has, and by understanding them better, you will know yourself if you should take a specific stance of action or interaction. I cannot say weather in your circumstances, that person is dangerous, or if they are the victim, or both, but the usual way of these things is if the situation improves, that person will move mountains to help others. If they decide in themselves for whatever reason to leave this situation, their next situation will be worse again. To a great extent, those around them have a greater influence than their own internal balances. Sorry I could not be more specific in this type of forum, or you find this overly cryptic, I am an aspie amoungst other things.

      Delete
  18. I am an aspie and my partner is not able to handle my melt downs and kicked me out. She claims they don't exist as her friend says they don't.

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  19. There are forty minutes left of my Thanksgiving, and I get to spend them the same way I've spent the last six hours of it: knowing that I ruined it with what I now, after reading this entry and the comments here, recognize as a full-on adult aspie meltdown. I am 31 years old, and today I called my father whom I love a "son of a bitch" in the car on the way home from the restaurant where we were going to have our holiday dinner together.

    I've only known about having autism for less than a year now, and I've held the mistaken assumption that since I have only lost control fully and screamed in public one time (back in high school), I just wasn't the sort prone to meltdowns. I was proud of this. But then I read... this...

    Now I understand. I've had dozens and dozens of meltdowns. Maybe a hundred, over three decades. I am not better. I am not -lucky-. I am not immune to the worst of it, despite having what I still consider to be a pretty mild (or "extremely high-functioning", if you prefer the looking-to-the-positive perception angle) case of autism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really feel for you. You're still young though and can try to train yourself to avoid behaviour that makes your relationships difficult. Or maybe work out what your limits are.

      Delete
  20. I have meltdowns from time to time and being blind adds to the stress.
    I am told that the outsider sees it as my attitude as in their mind autism does not exist and they tell me it is me. I should grow out of the meltdowns.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I become very stresses out. I have high functioning autism and become very frustrated. I have many autism meltdows I become really stressed out and anxious and confused and I may shout words that are not nice. I have to express my anger by shouting at the top of my voice to be able to calm down and this can take a few hours. My mum would ask me why did I shout a d argue I would say I don't know why and I say I can't remember. I forget why I started arguing and shouting after it has happened.

    I become anxious and paronoid over very small things.

    I become really panicky and frustrated and worry when I get in a state when arguing and screaming. I sweat exec ivy my clothes become drenched in sweat and I become really confused and unable to listen to anyone. And say you don't understand and care to the other person I am arguing or shouting at.


    I feel very panicky and fearful of what I could say or do when I am angry and become very would up easily and my fists clench and all I want to do is keep on hitting the person I am arguing with and bashing things and breaking things buy I stead I do things before I think. I find it hard to think before I speak. Any strategies I have been told to do when angry just go out the windows as I forget and the time I am in a raging autism temper.

    I have to have half of a small calming down tablet when I become too much h when shouting.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi im finding it really hard not to get stressed and loss it recently and am afraid of hurting myself or some one else iv never dealt with stress very well and recently i just cant vent it cant find a chill space to clear my mind and thoughts and its seriously affecting my work and social life if there is anyone who can help me out with any tips i would be most appreciated

    ReplyDelete
  23. I so feel your pain. I am another face of Autism. I am the family member who suffers with you. I am the one who cares about what you're going through. The one who wants to share your pain. Who wants to help, the one who you run away from. The one who takes your abusive words over & over again. The one you hit in an angry rage. The one who cleans up your mess in the aftermath of a full blown meltdown. The one who tries to protect you. One Who loves you

    ReplyDelete
  24. I wish there was a lovely smiling person with a wonderful soothing voice to calm me down when I have a meltdown. The man next door keeps building a screen right next to my window and it has become such a huge emotional obsession to me. Whenever I go out he constructs a bit more, and when I get home I fly into an uncontrollable rage
    and disassemble it. The people in my street are very wary of me now. These rages have a knock-on effect that can last for years, and yet when I am in one I do not care. I actively WANT the police to come so I can calm down in a cell. This has not yet happened, but possibly only a matter of time. My rages are so destructive that if I cannot throw things around and break them I will crash anything into my own face that I can lay my hands on. I wish someone would just take charge of the situation when it happens. The feeling of self-hatred, or even defiance,
    afterwards is so destructive to my wellbeing.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I see its some aspies need the effection during a meltdown and some need to be left alone. I dont know if because as a kid, my dad wouldnt let me go to my room when i was starting to meltdown, that now i cant be alone during one, or if i am just crazy. I wish I could walk away. Something makes me keep trying to fix the situation or i keep explaining the same thing over and over while screaming and hurting myself or partner. I am generally very calm and shy and nice so i dont know why i have to meltdown like this. My partner is the one that walks away and it freaks me out. It sends a shear straight panic into my body and mind and all i can think about is the goal to get them to understand me and to hug me so i can feel the pressure. I dont meltdown if I get a good squeeze during the pre-meltdown. I comes out eventually sure, but if someone could just squeeze me every time i got anxious and then talk to me about whatever it is that is freaking me out, then i am sure i would do better in not allowing them to get so out of control. I do not want to do it in front of my kids but i cant stop it. Its like my brain takes over and I can only see whats going on but I cant make it stop until my brain gets what it wants. I have terrible vertigo because of the head poundings and my legs are always bruised cause i dont want to hurt people so it feels better when i hurt myself and sometimes i dont realize i am even hurting myself or anyone else. To me it just feels like i am reaching out trying to find closure, but really i am grabbing and clawing and smacking whatever, whoever and throwing anything that is around me. I HATE them and I want them to stop because other than these, I am a really good person who keeps to herself. I go to therapy, she gives me lessons and things to do in situations that get hard, but it doesnt help if the other people push you because they are tired of the behavior. Well people, so the hell am I. So stop being upset with me and start helping me. I dont know things till its done or already too far. Be me while I cant be me. Calm me down and get over yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I had no idea other adult Aspies had "meltdowns" - common as a kid -full blown terror with no way to explain. The doctor said I was a bad child and to punish me. As I grew older my family would push my buttons, knowing I'd explode, and they could dismiss me as "crazy." As I grew older, working, dating etc, I'd explode, but it was specific to situations. Now I'm old and I just stay away from people and I'm much more calm and thoughtful. BUT, I've discovered that I get angry with myself - I have to live with my failures, odd moods and frustrations. I'm really hard on myself at times when I just can't seem to cope with stress.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am 20 years old and have not been diagnosed with Aspergers but many of the "symptoms" explain my life. As a child I would have a meltdown and get mad at my friends and end up hurting them, they were over the littlest things as well, but it was the trigger and the blinding moment of anger afterwards. As I grew up I became embarrassed and kept everything to myself. I have broken much of my technology over the years and also done many of the classic meltdown characteristics. I hit myself in the head, I bite my hand, I flap around and just basically have a tantrum for up to ten minutes. My mom is the only one who has heard my meltdowns, I have gotten so mad at her and mumble curse words under my breath until it builds into full on rage and then I go and have a meltdown to myself. I am triggered by noises that take away my peace, things that I misplace, mistakes I make, or technology being unresponsive. I have depression as well, and have been having worse meltdowns lately because of it, and many suicidal thoughts race around my head.

    I have always had a hard time in social situations and get overwhelmed by people. I lack empathy when talking to people, but I experience too much empathy when I am listening to a story, watching a movie, or reading a book. I have never been normal and even when I try to be I fail horribly. The few people in my life that stick around long enough to get to know the real me, don't know about my beliefs for having Aspergers, but maybe they wouldn't even notice because I hide my tantrums. I am terrible with words and I constantly am saying things that aren't socially acceptable, but I am getting better at watching my words. Whenever I talk to someone I am always thinking, am I looking them in the eyes too much, am I saying something awkward, and how are they feeling towards me right now. I get scared and just can't read how people view me, but I use myself as a way to gauge how to interact with others. If I don't like something then I won't to it, but if I appreciate people doing that then I wI'll try and do it. I have been overly generous and awkward before, because I like to make people happy but I always go a little to far and its hard for me to understand what the boundaries are. I come off as cold and aloof quite often and when people get to know me they see my loving spririt. I just want to help people, and i am a missionary in Guatemala. Even though I am bad at interacting with people, I just want the world to be a safe place for everyone. I put myself out of my comfort zone quite often, and i am learning a lot from it. It's hard for me to be here in communal living because my safe quite place is disrupted by loud noises all the time that trigger my meltdowns. I don't know what to do, or if I even have aspergers. Any advice?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Try crying, even though it may feel very shameful, you can go and hide somewhere and cry, & I find it is just as effective in release as having a real meltdown. But without the embarrassment and shame of hurting people.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Consider going somewhere where you can hide and having a really good cry, I find that this has the same calming effect as if I had had a meltdown. Even though crying I find is very embarrassing and I feel ashamed, it is more embarrassing to have a meltdown and hurt people. So, perhaps a normal people use crying as a release such as when we get overwhelmed. Don't know about others, but have never really wanted to cry. But it actually works, and doesn't involve medication.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have had meltdown but I have not been diagnosed as an Aspie. Wondering if I should seek formal assessment due the similarities of my life experience but some aren't. The last time I couldn't control myself I got injured because of head banging and have the wound stitched up. That was the most serious one. I mostly cry at home because of stress in studies and social interactions with others, but recently I wonder if it's normal to cry because of social situations as I am in my mid twenty and people around me doesn't cry because of those situations. I just avoid joining activity that have many people. But I feel normal in many parts of my life in work and studying. I do think I have empathy, and I read a lot about ASD but the comments on empathy and some other characteristics are somehow inconclusive. So I am not sure if I am just having a self-confirmation bias on suspecting myself or it's an explanation of the way I am and I was.

    ReplyDelete
  31. This site is exactly what I was looking for. Just as "Aspergers Reality", this site provides insight and recognition for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I just experienced one of many meltdowns in my aspergers husband. Its scary and he says hurtful things and throws and breaks things. I'm on anxiety medication because of the sheer panic I experience when he's having his meltdown. We also have 3 children. All have been witnesses to his angry scary behavior. I as an adult have been under intense emotional distress dealing with this and walking on eggshells. I'm scared as to the emotional stress it puts my children under. I want to leave with the children but then he's alone. He has no friends and a mother who is mentally abusive herself. I can't find a therapist who understands aspergers to help us. The last therapist we saw explained that she can't help anymore. She is worried for my mental health through dealing with these meltdowns and the overall aspie behavior. Ugh. Help me someone!!!!! I don't know how to leave and be on my own with 3 children and one who is also AS.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I have had the experience of being on the other end of my aspie husband's meltdowns. Our 3 children have been on the other end of it too. Its scary. Its hard to deal with the angry outbursts that result in throwing and breaking things while saying hurtful things to me. I want to escape my situation but I don't know how. I am a stay home mom. I have a daughter who is suspected of AS as well. I'm overwhelmed and I feel scared and alone. I'm on anxiety medication because of the eggshells I walk on daily living with an aspergers husband. Help. What can I do? If I leave he will be all alone. If I leave how will I financially support myself and our children? I'm so distressed over this life I live. I'm sad. I'm afraid. I'm lonely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need support. Do you have any family you can go to? Im an aspie dad and I'm researching my own meltdowns. My wife is in a similar mental state. After 15 years, I no longer break things, but I still have meltdowns every week or so, and it's a living hell for all of us. Only you know how dangerous the situation is. If the choice is someone dying or being seriously hurt, then you need to get out - he might be alone, but he won't be in jail. Seek help, get some support, talk about it. People who've been through this are willing to help. Safety first.

      Delete
  34. Hey everyone.
    I am not sure if I even have Asperger's but I do know that my mother is a high functioning Aspie and my youngest brother is as well. My mum believes I have ghostings of it. But I have done some research and I do have a lot of similarities. I usually bottle my emotions off and every 3 months or so I do end up having a meltdown. A couple of days ago, due to a big disagreement with a friend, I lost it. I did not do anything physical, I became hysterical, hyperventilating, sobbing, I was even disgusted in myself that my boyfriend had to see me like this. I honestly felt like I was not in the right state of mind. I feel now that I have scared my boyfriend away. He doesn't know how to deal with it. I feel alone. I live by myself, in my 20s and have Uni and work. I do suffer from anxiety and depression. I really don't know what to do now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell him your an Aspie,If he loves you he will learn to live with it.My wife understands I get overwhelmed and sees it coming telling me to go into another room until it passes.You should not be upset you are a wonderful human as an Aspie you are loyal,kind and clever.no one is perfect so don't put yourself down.Dont be ashamed it's not your fault.

      Delete
  35. Can high functioning AS "lose it" as they age and increase the level of aggressive outbursts?

    ReplyDelete
  36. As I've read down all these posts I think a lot of you don't understand Aspies very well. The article is more about extreme examples, not the norm if you can call it that. HFA or Aspergers is about emotions that are very intense and at times so strong that the Aspie will do just about anything to get rid or deny the emotion. Having the condition isn't the Aspie's fault but the actions are the Aspie's fault. To think that it's an excuse is the worst thing an Aspie can do. If you've got problems don't be stupid and let them get worse. Take responsibility. Find resources and get help from professionals who diagnose and treat mental illness. You can be an Aspie and be healthy. Communities have resources to provide what you need at minimal or no cost at all. If you've been there and tried but not had the success you want, don't give up trying and find someone better to help you.

    You don't have to be afraid and your loved ones don't need to fear you. Get help and maintain yourself. If you are as angry, so what! Have the guts to take responsibility for what good you do have and build on it to make your life better! Don't be bitter and don't take it out on others. That's just immature and selfish.

    To those significant others who want to have things get better be smart about what you do. You can be a support that makes the Aspie's life and your life better. Take a class on how to deal with stress, read up on social skills and how to help resolve an Aspie's feelings. Sometimes the best thing you can do is tell them that they're okay and safe. They need to know you're there for them but don't panic. I have felt my worst when I felt disconnected with my spouse, family, and support group. Love is about feeling safe and connected.

    We Aspies get mind blindness when the feelings are too strong. What that means is that we fail to understand emotions in others. At our worst we don't know how to control ourselves and do stupid things. Help us feel that you understand us and accept us and we can let go of the emotions and find resolution and healing. Give us opportunity to work through our emotions and help us gain momentum in self control and coping.

    There are free classes how to deal with anger, loss, and how to get a job. Tell us what's important to you and because it's important to you it will become important to us. Tell us we can do it and be positive. Yes we've made mistakes and we'll make more but encourage us to try and give us time to come to the same conclusion. We're smart just not always smart enough to make good decisions.

    Life can be happy and rewarding if we're willing to put in the work to make it that way. Be patient and realize that meaningful change takes time. When we feel loved and safe we are capable of doing incredible things. There are very famous Aspies who succeed and should inspire us to be the best we can be. Being a victim is the worst we can be.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I've come to the point of realization that speaking to the aspie while in an anger rant only turns the anger higher. My aspie bf knows his anger is usually unwarranted and excessive compared to the fault. Because he knows this, I refuse to speak or give him eye contact. I first tell him while looking him in the eye "I'm not going to address this issue while your anger is taking control of you." I do not acknowledge his presence while he is in this state of mind. No matter what he says or does (ie. destroy personal belongings in my case), I stay stoic.

    After he has calmed, which could be days at times, he ends up realizing once again that his anger is an issue. Hopefully he will realize one day that his anger is unmanageable. And with my subtle and gentle nudging combined with constant reassurance that "we are in this together; I'm right here; we can overcome this obstacle together", he will eventually decide to get therapy for his much needed anger management.

    What I have noticed is our arguments are less, simply because I refuse to participate. I completely separate my emotions from his. I continue my days with my pleasant, calm attitude as normal, avoiding having thoughts of "what just happened?!!?". I'm naturally a very laid back person. Always have been into fitness, sports, and socialize often. Another important thing is staying busy with constructive habits in which to better yourself. When you are constantly reaching new achievements for yourself, the approval and desire you expect from your aspie is no longer an issue when you have those peer groups congratulating you all the time.

    I'm not a professional, and not saying this approach will 100% work for you and your aspie, but it has provided an enormous amount of relief in my life, so I wanted to share.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you will understand that you do not have to put up with this. Even if you don't believe me now, someday you will tire of being in a permanent care giver role. Nothing destroys a marriage/relationship like becoming a "mother figure" for an aspie. You will lose respect for the aspie and then finally for yourself when you realize everything you gave up for someone who will never truly appreciate it. You will get tired of the endless "tantrums" (I refuse to call them meltdowns because they are adult tantrums - call it like it is). Have a complete life with someone who cares as deeply about you - VALUE YOURSELF.

      Delete
  38. Just been Diagnosed at 37.
    My wife left me at the onset of my diagnosis -
    I'm now in another relationship, happier and chugging along (she may well have Aspergers too but un diagnosed), I find working with others a nightmare in employment, as i'd rater do things myself for fear of them making a mistake.
    I had a stable office job, I was pushed into another role and couldn't handle the change I now work for myself as it seems the only option as people do not understand me most of the time.
    I'm struggling sometimes financially, but feel marginally better for this - I have a very short attention span sometimes (this fluctuates massively) and get agitated in office environments.
    I thought i'd share this as this is my story as it unfolds at this late stage in my life. :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Ok I apologize if this type of question has already been answered as i haven't been able to look at all the comments... I am currently trying to help out a family member and I temp have my young adult niece that is high functioning Autistic, Aspergers, and slight mental retardation... She also never really seen a specialist from what i understand. I'm working on trying to get her seen but until then the way others around us deal with her seems to be just impatience and no consideration to her feelings whatsoever. When they explain things to her they say it in what seems either to be a belittling tone or really loud. Most of that is why i opened my door to her my heart was breaking for her. But when we go visit family right away she has an attitude. I don't baby her per say. But she doesn't have meltdowns nearly as much with me either. I guess i just need some pointers?

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm 25 I suffer from aspergers I have realised that there is no help we can't just stop being the way we are talking to people won't help because they could never understand medication only makes people worse there is no cure or treatment for aspergers medication is just a business it was never there to help people like us pharmaceutical companies profit billions each year throwing their medication at us without any real understanding nobody wants to help you all they want you to do is keep coming back for more medication they depend on it the same goes for depression it's all a racket don't be a part of it aspies are intelligent and interesting people there is no such thing as normal be who you are don't ever let anyone take that from you or make you feel like an outcast.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I am at a loss as to how to deal with my partners melt downs (personaly) there is no way I can deal with them on his behalf anyway his brick wall goes so high the only place it crumbles is where he knocks holes to fire verbal bullets at me often from knowhere he can attack a compliment which si what he did tonight after I simply called him a soldier after he worked all day walked 4 miles then when tap dancing I said it via message on ym daughter phone right after telling him I was painting a picture for him for his birthday I have even carefully planned that as I know he has a real issue with captialism so thought I would make him something creative and only told him because he thought I was being lazy while really I am simply waiting for a DBS to come through before I start full time work and I decided not to be lazy but to plan his birthday and well the abuse I just got on the phone was totally uncalled for so I messaged him saying I think maybe he would benefit from a punch bag to sort his anger out rather than aim it at me! then after my day being all about him he mesages me back saying its not all about me ! when actually my whole dam day has been about him and only now when he abuses me on the phone because he's had a hard day it becomes about me cause I am not going to tolerate that shite as far as I am concerned aspergers is a reason its not an excuse he knows why he is like he is but he seems to think its an excuse to not be mindful not be sorry not care how it makes anyone else feel but him I am sorry but how much of this is asperger's and how much of it is arrogance ? cause right now the arrogance is shining through like comment

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  42. Hi I just found out this year I have Aspergers and I feel like I might be going to a melt down

    ReplyDelete
  43. I just ruined my marriage and my life, because I lost control.

    I am now at a loss of what to do and have become stagnant, fearing that I will make things worse.

    What is really messed up is, I really want to cry right now. I want to open the floodgates and let the emotions out that I can feel on the inside. I can't. It doesn't happen. It hurts. It's on the verge and it never comes.

    ReplyDelete


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