I’ve been told that the term meltdown ought not to be used because it’s offensive and the term sensory overload should be used instead.
To my mind sensory overload and meltdowns are two different things. I have suffered sensory overload today but I didn't have a meltdown, I left the overstimulating environment for a quieter environment to recover. I do believe though that prolonged sensory overload will usually result in a meltdown.
I don't think this is coming from the autistic population, I could however imagine parents saying it.
I do find it offensive when neurotypicals use it to describe being angry/upset/frustrated because it diminishes its meaning to what we experience as a meltdown.
What do you think?
Don’t have much experience but I can relate to the term as sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, overloaded ... to be honest I don’t know what really happens I sweat ... and I sweat badly it is like open tap, water drips everywhere. It feels like I’m melting.
Maybe you are Jan84. That’s what happens to me. I get overheated, meaning my stress levels rise and everything else in my body seems to rise with it including my indoor heating element. What clever bodies we have that open the taps to help us sweat it out and cool down. I was in the supermarket yesterday, talking on the phone to my mum and I said to my Mum, I’ve got to go now, I can feel my body getting hot, I know what’s coming if I don’t change what I’m doing ~ a meltdown. So I got off the phone, did a bit of deep breathing, relaxed, and I was good to go. I finished my ridiculously over priced shopping haul (because I was hungry) came home, nibbled at the food and left most of it to put in the bin today! Such as life :-)
BlueRay said:What clever bodies we have that open the taps to help us sweat it out and cool down.
I understand that more now ... I used to hate my body for "doing this to me" when my counsellor told me years ago that it is a good thing and without it I would probably die, I couldn't make sense of it. Obviously I didn't know the root cause of it and quite often I was confronting this sort of situation which triggered sweating.
I was quite active within my church at the time so I have put myself through loads of social interaction crowded places etc.
My goal and dream was to stop sweating!! Specially that at some point I was accused of taking drugs, I started sweat badly in the middle of the sermon ... so badly that after the sermon I was taken a side. Although I didn't know what just happened I've managed to explain myself ...
It was like wishes circle something triggered sweating but after that my attitude towards it was triggering even more sweating ... sometimes I felt like I'll collapse and die.
Problem was because I knew that in certain situation I find it very difficult I was trying to prove it wrong and instead step back I was putting myself through more.
I agree that sensory overload isn't the same as a meltdown, although the first can lead to the second, if it's not possible to get away from the source of overload, or tune it out in some way, e.g. closing eyes or listening to music through headphones.
Calling a meltdown "sensory overload" makes it sound less worrying, perhaps. I think that could actually be more offensive, if it makes light of the situation.
The term itself does not make sense. It suggests a comedown rather than an escalation of frustrated behaviour. Makes me wonder how the term came to be.
I would agree that meltdown and sensory overload in my mind are two different things.
Sensory Overload is being overwhelmed by incoming external stimuli, someone might need to go somewhere quiet, shut their eyes and zone out, or cover their ears, put on music do drown something out etc. but it's nothing more than that.
A Meltdown to me is an outward expression of a loss of control, someone is no longer able to control their emotions and so explodes outwardly in various ways (aggression, screaming, etc.).
I agree with you that it probably comes from parents, they may feel that meltdown (a collapse or breakdown or emotional control) or tantrum (an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration) are seen by some as pejorative. My view would be that meltdown is a perfectly acceptable term, tantrum is often associated with toddlers, or used to describe adults behaving like children and is used in a pejorative sense when it's subject is not a child.
I think you have a good point there Matt. I have unfortunately had a meltdown on a plane and had to be let off (a long story, but prolonged sensory overload, then chaos capped off by a wailing child) .... anyway, I had no control over it and I suspect the people around me thought it was a 40-something woman either throwing a massive tantrum or having some kind of breakdown. Personally I am not uncomfortable with meltdown; tantrum on the other hand would have implied I was just doing it for effect, which is absolutely not the case.
The problem with the term meltdown is that it means different things to different people and they fail to see the difference between a meltdown in someone autistic and someone who isn't.
A workplace is not a good place for an autistic person to have a meltdown. Managers do not understand. They see it as bad behaviour.They will not think that processes at work are causing it and that removing the cause is a better action than discipline and that occasional meltdowns are a curse that autistic people have. They think disciplinary action will cure it. But it won't. My meltdowns at work have been caused by no one listening to my concerns, when things get so bad that my mind will not function rationally, when I am goaded and coerced into doing things that do not fit in with the way I think. This is the cause and effect. Remove this overload and the meltdown will not happen.
The more I try to suppress a meltdown the worse it becomes. But trying to tell a manager that it is their behaviour that is often the cause is not taken well by them. After a recent meltdown at work the manager wanted to put me on a 'behaviour plan, which I contested on the grounds that having a meltdown was a consequence of being autistic and that it should be more of an understanding of what leads to a meltdown than a behavioural issue. I also asked what risk assessment they had as regards my autism, their reply seemed to indicate there wasn't one. (It is a duty of any employer to have a risk assessment for anyone who is classed as disabled and this should also be available to the disabled person)
I am now waiting to see what is drawn up and I have asked for meaningful consultation. But there is no way I will sign any behaviour agreement, anymore than someone with a physical abnormality should sign an agreement to keep it covered up as it might distress others.
I am also finding my meltdowns mare getting more severe in their intensity. A lot of articles on autism seem to suggest that autism 'wears off ' (for want of a better term) with age and the symptoms get milder. This is not my experience at all, if anything I become more affected and more misunderstandings occur. I think more study needs to be done of autism into old age, the problem is that far fewer senior citizens have been diagnosed since autism only came to prominence in the 1990s.