Adult Meltdown Avoidance In Adults With ADHD and Autism
What does an Adult Meltdown look like? It can be similar to that of a Meltdown experienced by a child.
Adults and children alike, with ADHD and Autism/ Asperger's tend to feel emotions and changes to their environment very deeply.
There may be tears, shouting, self harm or even, complete shutdown when such instances arise.
People with ADHD and Autism can experience mood shifts throughout the day therefore, it is important to try to identify one's triggers.
These triggers may be psychological, sensory or, emotional.
The restlessness and energy that comes from having ADHD for instance, can sometimes be too much to handle.
it is important that you are able to give yourself space to process during times where you feel over stimulated or dealing with far too much Sensory information.
Poor impulse control can also lead to stressful changes in your emotional state.
However, often times you may not be able to identify what upset you in the first place.
What can you do if this happens? How do you soothe yourself if you are out alone and you experience one of these awful Meltdowns?
1. Notice when you are approaching 'overwhelm' and sensory overload; are you dizzy or confused? Do you feel over excited? Are you somewhere extremely noisy/ busy? In these situations the part of the brain which controls rational thought is overwhelmed.
Try to remove yourself from this environment. Find a quiet space and practise breathing techniques which work for you. Try a Body Scan; refocussing your concentration and grounding yourself in the here and now. I find fidget/ textured keyrings to be helpful in focusing my attention elsewhere during stressful situations. Look online for affordable, discreet items like Fidget Keyrings, Calming Bottles and Glitter Jars (Sensory Distraction Toys). There are even online tutorials detailing how to make your own sensory distraction toys.
2. Take breaks when you need to. Be open about your ADHD or Autism with loved ones and in the workplace. Make people aware that there will be instances where you may need breathing space so as to avoid future Meltdowns.
3. Eat and sleep well. I know this sounds obvious but think about how many times a meltdown has snuck up on you seemingly from nowhere? Think back; had you slept well the night before? Had you eaten that day? You may be overstimulated while hungry and not even be aware of the trouble brewing within. Fatigue plays a large role in both Autism and ADHD meltdowns so please, look after yourself. If you are experiencing insomnia or difficulties eating then you must take regular breaks and, try to consume nutrients. This will keep your energy levels up and, minimise your risk of crashing.
4. Do not demand perfection from yourself or others. Try not to put undue pressure on yourself and remember, that your ADHD or Autism simply means you may have to do things a little differently. Maintaining realistic expectations of others will also help to avoid disappointments later. Also, stick to facts. Often, intrusive thoughts and feelings of inadequacy may overwhelm you amidst a meltdown. Address the real issue/ problem and, instead refocus your attention on finding solutions. Involving a partner or friend can help redirect your attention to the matter at hand.
5. Study your own routine and plans by keeping a diary or notebook. Are there any identifiable times where you felt the most stressed? Devise a plan for dealing with those instances. I.E. You are stressed every day travelling to school or work. Is there an alternative, quieter route you could try? Are you interacting with someone who may be treating you poorly? Avoidance is productive in times of anxiety but don't avoid things simply because of fear. Identify your triggers and try to alter your routine to avoid these environmental stressors instead.
6. Medication. There is an increased risk of Meltdowns occurring as medications wear off. I know how tricky it can sometimes be to stick to a medication routine. Missing medication doses can lead to emotional issues as well as, physical withdrawal symptoms. If you are prone to forgetting doses, try dated Blister packs if home alone or, involve a loved one in your medication routine so that you aren't at risk of missing doses.
I hope you will find some of this helpful; I do realise that a lot of these strategies may seem obvious but, try building your own 'Toolkit'. Keep a notebook and add things like: like flowcharts, diaries where you can identify 'good' and 'bad' days, mindfulness techniques and, support network contacts. Your toolkit can also be sticking to a wellness routine of: mindfulness/ breathing techniques/ guided meditation which work for you, good diet and rest, regular medication and, implements/ strategies in the study or workplace which will support your diagnosis.
Often we can feel helpless or believe that others simply do not want to help. Safeguard your own stability, Utilise your own unique tricks for dealing with your diagnosis. Read, learn and TALK to people.
I hope you are all having a great weekend.