Getting Angry

Hi,

I am not certain that this is the best section for this but I have a few questions and would be really appreciative if someone could help? I am 20 years old and have recently been assessed for autism and I am awaiting their decision. 

Sometimes I can become really angry really quickly. I feel as though I lose control and want to hit something and want to scream. I can cry, lie on the floor, curl up and become very very frustrated. They have been worse recently. When they happen I hate it and I feel guilty after but at the time I am so wrapped up in what is happening and really feel like I can't come out of it. I know this behaviour is unacceptable. So my questions are:

  • Do people with autism have episodes like this or is this just me not being able to control myself?
  • If anyone else does have them, what do you do to help you come out of the situation and calm down?

Thank you so much for reading my questions, I really hope that someone can help enlighten me.

Thank you :)

  • That would be called a meltdown, I guess? 

    I don't really have that, not anymore at least, I rather shut down, but generally it's not uncommon with ASD. You'll probably get replies from people who get that too, at least there are several around here who have mentioned it before.

    Guess when you see it come you could perhaps try to remove yourself from the situation and go somewhere quiet until you feel calmer, but once it has properly started you can only wait for it to be over and hope for understanding from the people around you. Getting a diagnosis may not be a bad thing for this.

  • Yes - as Oktanol says, a 'meltdown' (I don't like that term, but can't think of a suitable alternative).  I work with low-functioning autistic people, and there is most often some antecedent (or 'trigger') for challenging behaviour like this.  Maybe something has been moved in their room, or someone else is making a sound they don't like, etc.  It varies from individual to individual.  Sometimes they can overcome their anger or anxiety by rectifying the situation.  With others, it'll lead on to another stage, when they'll find something else and something else... escalating the anger or anxiety until there is the meltdown.  With the people I work with, this again can vary from shouting, or throwing something, to full-on kicking or hitting of something (including other people if they're in the way) or smashing things.  I have one lad who's really quite capable and has a good awareness of danger, etc - but he can switch in an instant from happy/smiling to screaming/smashing.  But once he's over that peak, he'll settle down quite quickly again.  The 'trigger' might simply be a thought that's come into his head that's been suggested by something else: for example, someone saying something that reminds him of a telling-off when he was younger.  With all of them, it's usually about fulfilling some sort of need: to get something they want, to instigate social contact, to stop something they don't like, etc.  It's a form of communication for them when other forms (speech, etc) aren't available to them.

    With high-functioning people, such as myself and you, there may be more control involved.  We have a certain knowledge and understanding that might prevent the behaviour from escalating, or might enable us better to control it.  I've had meltdowns like the ones you describe, though.  I'll also have panic attacks, when I'm bombarded with information, or when I'm expected to change my plans very quickly, when my brain seems to 'freeze' - almost like I'm dazed.  Things that really trigger me to go from 0 to 10 very quickly are hitting a traffic jam that will make me late, people being rude, sudden loud noises (especially boy racers with megaphone exhausts blasting by), or some kind of injustice.  I drink to alleviate anxiety (though not when I'm driving, obviously), and if alcohol is a factor at the time - depending on how much I've had - I can become physically violent (towards objects, not people) or verbally abusive.  One example, a few years ago, was when I was living in a small block of studio apartments.  One of my young neighbours died mysteriously, and the cause was traced to a faulty gas boiler which serviced all of the flats.  I and a few others had been feeling unwell at the time, too.  It transpired that the boiler was old and hadn't been properly maintained.  I was outraged and didn't know how to vent my feelings adequately.  So I did the worst thing possible.  I got drunk... then I went down to the boiler room and smashed it up.  I was arrested and charged with criminal damage.  The charge, though, was dropped because of the extenuating circumstances.  It was a timely reminder to me about what lurks inside.  I felt tremendous guilt following that - and following other, less serious incidents since.  But, like you say, it's like something comes over me and 'fuses' all rationality.

    I could do anger management courses, I suppose.  But I think I have enough insight now to know that my best course of action is usually to either escape from the situation, or minimise the risk of it.  So... I'll leave home earlier for the drive to work, when I'm less likely to be stuck in traffic.  Or I'll go shopping late in the evening, when there are fewer people about whose behaviour (jostling, queue-jumping, etc) might wind me up.  And I won't drink at times of extreme stress, when I'm more volatile, but will instead go out for a walk, or do some other form of exercise to work off the hormones.  There are all sorts of strategies like that. 

    Are there any particular things that set you off?

  • Hi Molbelf

    Looks like you've had some helpful responses about getting angry.

    While you are waiting to find out the results of you assessment, you may like to look at our information about autism:
    http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is.aspx

    You may like to have a look at the following page which includes personal accounts, which may help:http://www.autism.org.uk/about/adult-life/stories.aspx

    If you do receive a diagnosis of autism - you may find the following post diagnosis leaflet, which you can download from our website, useful:

    http://www.autism.org.uk/about/diagnosis/adults/after.aspx

    (edited link - thanks, Song)

    If you have further questions, you may like to contact our Autism Helpline team. They can provide you with information and advice about getting a diagnosis. You can call them on 0808 800 4104 (Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm, Friday 9am to 3pm).  Please note that the Helpline is experiencing a high volume of calls and it may take a couple of attempts before you get through to speak to an advisor.

    Hope this helps,

    Nicky-Mod

  • I don't get angry very often thankfully, but to be honest when i do it spirals very quickly. I have been known to throw things, break items, hit things. It's usually when i can't find a way to explain how i'm feeling in words. It's pretty rare and i've never thrown something at a person or gone to hit someone, so i'm not too concerned about it.