Friday, May 17, 2024

High Functioning Autism Meltdown

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Other Signs Of High Functioning Autism

High-Functioning Autism Visual Therapy Meltdown Adults
  • You are often regarded as quirky and eccentric.
  • You are hypersensitive to sensory input like pain, sound, light, touch or smell.
  • You are extremely intelligent and knowledgeable about certain specific interests of yours, such as, mathematics, history, books, politics, sports etc.
  • You want to do things for yourself most of the time, instead of for others.

These are some of the most common traits of high functioning autism in adults, and being aware of these signs can help you understand all of this better.

Related: 23 Alarming Red Flags Of Sensory Issues In Kids That Most Parents Miss

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule

ADOS is regarded as the best method or tool for diagnosing high functioning autism symptoms in adults. It involves a standardized assessment of a childs imaginative abilities and plays, and a persons social interactions to deduce whether they meet the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

Even though there are certain sections that are designed to diagnose autism in children, these can also be used in evaluating signs of high-functioning autism in adults.

Related: This Poem Written By A Boy With Autism Will Make You Feel Emotional

What Is Autistic Burnout

Autistic burnout is a relatively common experience that many high-functioning adults with autism experience when they go to extensive lengths to mask their autistic traits and fit into the neurotypical world around them. After pushing away their emotional and physical reactions to uncomfortable sensory stimuli, their body and mind become overwhelmed and they shut down. Oftentimes, this causes a loss of skills as well.

Bear in mind that autistic burnout and the events that trigger it are unique to the person experiencing it. However, there are some common hallmark behaviors that indicate autistic burnout. Some common signs of autistic burnout include:

  • Feeling like you can no longer cope
  • Increase in common autistic behavior

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Techniques For Calming An Upset Child

Even the most vigilant parent will be faced with the occasional meltdown from their child with autism. When that happens, the following tips may help:

  • Recognize the signs: Children with autism will often show signs of distress before they have a meltdown. Be cognizant of changes in your child’s demeanor, and ask them what they are feeling if something doesn’t feel right.
  • Check for any changes in the environment: This may involve things as simple as closing a door, turning off a light, or turning down the music.
  • Give the child space: If your child is in no danger of harming themselves, give them space to calm down on their own. Stay nearby to ensure they remain safe, but avoid crowding them or trying to “make things right.”
  • Keep self-soothing tools nearby: If you’re away from home, be sure to have your child’s favorite sensory toy, weighted blanket, video, or book close at hand.

How Are Asd Levels Determined


It’s challenging to determine a person’s ASD level, but trained psychologists have some tools that can help them. The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition, is a tool, though it is typically paired with the child’s developmental history.

Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months of age, but many adults might not be diagnosed until much later. However, being diagnosed later in life can make getting support more challenging. If you feel like your child is autistic, consider making an appointment with a specialist.

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Aba With Golden Care Therapy

At Golden Care Therapy our team of dedicated and experienced ABA therapists provide service to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and their families throughout the state of New Jersey. Our use of scientifically proven ABA methods will make a positive difference in the life of your child.

Our ABA therapists will start by assessing your child to create a custom treatment plan that will meet your childs goals, regardless of their level of functioning.

Your child will learn how to regulate emotions, display appropriate behaviors, and reduce challenging ones. Whats more, they will have a possibility to practice their newly acquired skills while interacting with peers in our Social Skills Group.

If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York and New Jersey, give us a call at 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

Autism And The Rage Cycle

Blind range is the ultimate manifestation of anger and a frequent occurrence in autistic children. The cycle of ragetypically consists of three stages: rumbling, rage, and recovery.

Rumbling stage

Autistic meltdowns are usually preceded by signs of distress called rumblings. They include:

  • Rocking or pacing
  • Being very still and tense
  • Asking lots of questions
  • Threatening others.

If a child doesnt know how to prevent the build-up of anger, he or she will quickly lose control of the situation. At this point, a meltdown is inevitable.

Rage stage

At this stage, anger either culminates into aggression toward caregivers or peers or is internalized. The child may:

  • Have a meltdown with crying and shouting.
  • Try to run away from the situation, potentially putting him/herself in danger.
  • Exhibit aggressive behaviors including hitting, kicking, scratching, and biting.
  • Become too upset to listen to calming suggestions.
  • Be unable to process instructions given to help them to calm down.
  • Overreact to the situation and be unable to calm down on their own.
  • Engage in self-harm, including head banging and hair pulling.
  • Display self-stimulatory behaviors or stimming, such as hand flapping and clapping.

Recovery stage

Following a meltdown, many autistic children will have contrite feelings or wont remember what happened during the rage stage. Some children will withdraw after the episode or become so physically exhausted that they need to sleep.

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High Functioning Autistic Meltdown

TikTok video from kels : “had a melt down at work yesterday but im so high functioning #bipolardisorder #autistic”. youll be fine | i dont think your autistic, youre just weird | stop overthinking | …. original sound.


5.1K Likes, 58 Comments. TikTok video from Ziale : “i couldnt even finish akdhskdh love being high functioning #sensoryprocessing #actuallyautistic #autizzy”. me having a complete meltdown whenever i have to change my bedding and touch a raw pillow & mattress | cc: im realizing now that this isnt a neurotypical response to this situation . original sound.


961 Likes, 44 Comments. TikTok video from Aspergirl : “True story. #autismawareness #actuallyautistic”. original sound.


155.1K Likes, 628 Comments. TikTok video from Ziale : “ah yes at least im high functioning #actuallyautistic #autizzy”. this is what high functioning auti$m looks like: forgot to eat and drink water till 6pm, had a meltdown after masking at a doctors appointment, now forcing myself to work because i just got a hospital bill from the last time my body failed to tell me about my basic needs. Motion Sickness.




The Difference Between An Autistic Meltdown And Autistic Burnout:

The 3 Phases of a Meltdown in Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism

In many ways an autistic meltdown mimics burnout. However, meltdowns happen more frequently during childhood and can last for minutes to hours. Autistic meltdowns can be external and include aggressive behavior, agitation, or extreme emotional responses. In many ways experiencing an autistic meltdown is like riding a wave. Once youve caught the wave, you just have to ride it out. Furthermore, autistic meltdowns happen to individuals on the autism spectrum with any level of cognitive ability. As an autistic person ages, meltdowns may become more of an internal process where they shut down. The individual retreats inside to cope with distress and may become nonverbal, withdrawn, or emotionless.

The major difference between an autistic meltdown and burnout is that burnout is usually longer lasting. In most cases, it lasts for weeks or even months. I have known many individuals who have had to quit their jobs or school or go on medical leave because they are so worn down.

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How Meltdowns Differ From Tantrums

Because meltdowns and childhood tantrums share similar qualities, the phrases autism tantrum and autism meltdown have been used interchangeably. Still, theres a key difference between the two.

Though neurotypical adults may experience emotional outbursts similar to temper tantrums, generally speaking, tantrums are far more common in children.

On the other hand, autism meltdowns arent limited to children anyone with autism can become overstimulated and experience a meltdown.

Additionally, tantrums are generally goal-oriented.

Tantrums are often related to a want, while meltdowns are related to a trigger, Jane explains.

Its really important to understand the difference because meltdowns are never a voluntary choice within our control, and how you respond to a meltdown versus a tantrum is very different.

When To See A Healthcare Provider

Sensory overload can cause considerable stress to people with autism as well as their loved ones. In general, meltdowns and stimming behaviors are often more distressing than dangerous and, as such, don’t require immediate medical care.

However, medical treatment may be needed if behaviors are causing undue distress, disruption, or any risk of self-harm or harm to others.

Speak with your loved one’s mental healthcare provider to understand the benefits and risks of treatment. That way, you can make an informed choice as a parent or guardian.

Read Also: What Age Does Autism Show Itself

Why Is The Term Controversial

The term high-functioning is controversial due to its lack of accuracy. It is thought to refer to a person with autism who doesnt have an intellectual disability. However, studies have revealed that there is a correlation between adaptive behaviors and IQ.

This means that there are too many categories of functioning in society to label an autistic individual as either low or high-functioning:

  • Social awareness
  • Information processing

For example, an autistic person can have a high IQ and be categorized as “high-functioning” while scoring low in other categories like communication. Andrew Whitehouse, a professor of autism research at the Telethon Kids Institute, has this to say:

The term completely disregards the difficulties these individuals have on a day-to-day basis.

The biggest concern is that those labeled “high-functioning” won’t receive the care and services they need. A holistic evaluation is required in order to help autistic people benefit from therapy and other services. They might not qualify for funding because the categories in which they have difficulties are overlooked or disregarded.

A Note On Neurodivergent People


Theres no cure for autism, and many people in the autistic community dont feel the need for one. Instead, they recognize autism as a neurotype rather than a disability or condition that needs to be cured.

Neurodivergent folks, including autistic people, may communicate in different ways. For instance, avoiding eye contact and fidgeting may help them concentrate better or feel more comfortable in conversation it doesnt always mean disinterest.

Neurodivergent individuals may also respond to sensory stimuli differently than neurotypical people. These responses may include autism meltdowns, which are usually out of the autistic persons control.

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Break Out Your Sensory Toolkit

Keep a few sensory tools or toys in your car or bag. You can offer these to your kid when their mind is overwhelmed.

Kids have different favorites, but some common sensory tools include weighted lap pads, noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, and fidget toys.

Dont force these on your child when theyre melting down, but if they choose to use them, these products can often help them calm down.

How To Calm Down An Autistic Child During A Meltdown

A meltdown is generally a reaction by the individual as they are overwhelmed. The first thing in learning how to calm an autistic child is to identify what is actually overwhelming for them.

By identifying the trigger, the meltdowns could be prevented later on. Keep a diary to see if meltdowns occur at particular times or places.However, there are also things to try while the autistic child is having a meltdown to calm them down. Here are some tips and strategies:

Read Also: What Does Level 2 Autism Mean

How Can Aba Therapy Help With Anger Management

Applied Behavioral Analysis is an effective treatment that can help reduce and prevent aggressive behaviors in high-functioning autistic children. This type of therapy can help your child learn a range of anger management skills, for example:

  • Learning how to avoid negative responses or behaviors.
  • Learning what are acceptable alternative behaviors.
  • Learning to identify and appropriately communicate anger and other emotions.
  • Learning the coping skills for emotional regulation.
  • Learning appropriate social interactions and communication that dont result in aggression.

ABA therapy is considered one the most successful interventions for helping children with autism learn desired behaviors through positive reinforcement, with a close to 90% improvement rate. It can help your high-functioning child reduce angry and aggressive behaviors using a variety of techniques.

Autism Meltdowns Come From Overwhelm Or Overstimulation

What is High Functioning Autism? | Kati Morton

Next, lets answer the question. What is an autism meltdown? A meltdown is when the child loses control over his behavior and can only be calmed down by a parent, or when he reaches the point of exhaustion. These will sometimes be referred to as autism outbursts, but we will refer to it solely as an autism meltdown in this article.

Meltdowns are reactions to feeling overwhelmed and are often seen as a result of sensory overstimulation . Tantrums can lead to meltdowns, so it can be hard to tell the difference between the two outbursts if youre not attuned to your childs sensory signals.

For more information on sensory processing, check out Harklas article here.

When a person with autism experiences too much sensory stimulation, their central nervous system is overwhelmed and unable to process all of the input. Its a physiological “traffic jam” in your central nervous system and the sensory overstimulation is not unlike a maladaptive response to an actual traffic jam.

Weve all had the experience of happily driving to our destination, cruising down the highway singing along to our favorite song, when all of a sudden traffic comes to a dead stop. Now, instead of comfortably cruising , youre at a standstill surrounded by imposing big trucks, offensive exhaust fumes, blaring horns, and the blazing hot sun peeking through your windows.

The last thing you want is to be stuck in your car in that traffic jam – you want out!

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A Temper Tantrum Is Not An Autism Meltdown

A temper tantrum usually occurs when a child is denied what they want to have or what they want to do.

Parents observe many tantrums during the terrible twos. This occurs when young children are developing problem-solving skills and beginning to assert their independence.

In fact, this terrible twos stage is typically experienced between 12 months through 4 years old!

When you look at why temper tantrums occur at this stage, it is important to consider typical development and why toddlers are so easily frustrated:

  • Emerging desire to become independent, but limited motor skills and cognitive skills make it impossible to actually BE independent.
  • Emerging, developing language skills make communicating wants/needs frustrating.
  • The prefrontal cortex of the brain has not yet developed – this is the brain center responsible for emotional regulation and social behavior – so they do not have the ability to regulate!
  • Toddlers are developing an understanding of their world, and its often anxiety-producing. This anxiety and lack of control often result in tantrums when it all gets to be too much to manage.

A hallmark of a tantrum is that the behavior will usually persist if the child gains attention for his behavior, but will subside when ignored.

When parents give in to tantrum outbursts, children are more likely to repeat the behavior the next time they are denied what they want or need.

Coping Strategies For Dealing With Meltdowns

Meltdowns are something which many people with autism experience and which they may have experienced since childhood. Meltdowns can be distinguished from tantrums on the basis of having no end-goal in sight. You dont have a meltdown because you want to achieve something from it . You have a meltdown because you have absolutely no other way of responding to a situation. In terms of emotional regulation, youve completely lost your ability to maintain control.

Meltdowns may result in you screaming, crying, throwing things, shaking, and/or yelling hurtful comments. They can be scary and damaging to people around you and, when youve had a meltdown, chances are you feel pretty bad about it.

So how can you deal with the fallout? The following strategies may help.

1. Accept that you did not want to act in this way.

2. Have a safe place for the immediate aftermath.

3. Working with those people close to you.

Meltdowns have an impact on people close to you and witnessing someone who is having a meltdown can be a disturbing experience. When you are ready to, it is important to discuss your meltdown with those people who may have been affected by it. It could also be useful to show them some autistic resources which explain the experiences of other people with autism who experience meltdowns, as it can be a very difficult concept for other people to understand.

4. Recognise when a meltdown is coming.

Also Check: Is Autism And Asperger’s The Same

Causes Of Sensory Overload

The cause of SPDs is poorly understood and can differ based on whether a person has autism, ADHD, PTSD, or other developmental or psychiatric disorders.

What is known is that children with autism typically lack social attention, meaning the awareness of social cues and the expected modes of social interactions. On the flip side, they will often be hyperattentive to objects or environmental stimuli that others either filter out or fail to notice.

This imbalance in attention and the inability to shift focus between the larger environment and smaller details may account for why 95.8% of children with autism experience SPDs, according to a 2020 study in the Frontiers of Integrative Neuroscience.

The types of stimuli that trigger sensory overload can also vary from one person to the next. They may include:

  • Sounds: Especially persistent sounds like lawnmowers, washing machines, ticking clocks, or dripping water
  • Sights: Such as a flickering fluorescent lamp or curtains that flutter
  • Smells: Particularly heavy or distinct smells such as cleaning supplies, perfumes, new carpets, or foods
  • Textures: Such as eating slippery foods or touching a slimy gel

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