With over 83 million views since 2009, who hasn’t seen the Freakout Kid? If you haven’t , take a moment to watch the video:
What you are seeing was staged. It was meant as humor. I have a dark side to me and I admit I laughed. My wife didn’t find it so funny. To her, it was a sober reminder of what she’s seen at the worst points of an autistic meltdown. Whether from sensory overload or acute stress, an autistic meltdown is nothing to laugh at. As an important note, it’s often worse that what you see in the video.
Here are a couple of things to remember about autistic meltdowns. Unlike throwing a fit or a simple temper tantrum, they are involuntary at many of their worst points. Studies have linked autistic meltdowns/sensory overloads to seizure-like conditions. They are a medical issue every bit as much as they are a behavioral issue (depending on individual).
These fits run high risk of self and bystander injury. The flailing and agony is real. The triggers can seem microscopic to the onlooker.
Learning to live with this part of the disorder is important from early life. Stressors have to be managed differently and more acutely than with a average person. It can take years longer to learn how to live with it and recognize your own alarm signals and that’s if you’re high functioning like me. There are just as many who will never learn to control the overloads in their entire lifetime.
Here are a couple more links for extra information:
It’s important to also understand that Sensory Processing Disorder does not only occur with Autism. I happens with several medical conditions and takes on several forms. ADD and Epilepsy have their own versions of the issue.
The pain is real. The condition is real. It’s not just a matter of some kid being a brat. Can it be triggered by not getting his toy at the store? Yes it can, which is why therapy and firm parenting are still very important. Get what I’m saying here? I’m not saying let the kid have their way or don’t use any discipline. I’m saying you have to use different approaches than with a typical child. You can’t just beat them into submission. Hitting is nothing more than a sensory trigger, right along with having to hold or restrain them in the first place.
Do I still have sensory overloads at 44 years (almost 45) of age? Yes. I am still at risk. I have had them. My wife has had to take me to my fan where I can destress and escape the sensory input that I’m being flooded with. Hard to imagine for an adult, isn’t it?
It’s why I have a permanent brain injury. I’ve struggled with the attacks since I was 6 years old. Before I got medication to assist, I had attacks every couple of weeks, though sometimes I could stretch to a couple of months. So I’m not just talking out my rear end here. I’ve lived it and now I work to help my son learn to get far past it and control it for himself. I know there are many of you out there who know exactly what I’m talking about. This blog is for you.
I know what you are asking now. How do I know I’m going to have an attack? I’m pretty well practiced now at feeling what it’s like before it gets here. I very rarely have to have assistance. I don’t burst out in public. It starts at the nape of my neck, moves into my spine and it’s a sensation across my body that I have a hard time describing. Have I been stupid and ignored the signs before. Yes, a couple of times. My wife has set me straight on that though, let me tell you (my wife is a warrior). I also have to use extra care in how my MS wears me down because fatigue is a contributing factor. But I’m getting long in this post, so I will go more into how it feels and how I know it’s coming in my next entry. Thanks for reading.
- The Need to Create