A meltdown is when an autistic person gets overwhelmed by everything around them, and may begin to shout, scream, cry or lose control. 

Kane

Kane is 19 and lives in London with his family. He has Asperger Syndrome.

What can make meltdowns worse for me is worrying about what people think about me. I start thinking about how no-one cares, and that I am alone.

"My story is about a time I had a meltdown and it put me into a dangerous situation.

"I was out with my support worker, doing a few things in town. I like things to be logical and ordered. But my support worker took us on a really strange route. Rather than going from A to B to C to D, it was more like she took us from A to C to D to B.

Kane has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome

"This might not sound like a big deal, but to me it was really distressing – particularly because she didn’t explain why. She just said that it was part of learning 'life skills' for me to deal with things like this. I got really mad – and had a meltdown.

"Meltdowns can affect me in lots of ways. However it comes out, it always feels the same – like I have nothing left, like I am alone. But physically, during a meltdown I can do all sorts of things. I might be twitching, laughing, crying, or self-harming. Sometimes I'm very aware of what’s going on around me, sometimes I'm not conscious of my surroundings at all. It might last anything from ten minutes to 24 hours.

"This time, I just ran. I was aware of my surroundings but because of my meltdown I just didn't care. Because of how I look, I think other people saw me as some kind of angry kid causing trouble, thinking I was up to no good. But the more they stared at me the worse it got – like they were poking me with a stick.

"What can make meltdowns worse for me is worrying about what people think about me. I start thinking about how no-one cares, and that I am alone.

"I kept running. I knew there was a dangerous road but I didn't care. I knew I might get hit by a car but the way I was feeling being hit by a car felt like something I wanted to happen. But I carried on, into the road. I’m very lucky that I didn't get seriously hurt.

"Other people can be really helpful to me though, and help me recover. One time, when I was really stressed and I could feel a meltdown coming, a lady who I didn't know came up to me and just asked 'Are you okay?' It meant the world to me. That someone I didn't know, who owed me nothing, cared that I was okay.

"People don’t know it, but little things like that can change everything."

Spare a moment. First things first – try not to judge. Be patient, calmly ask if they're OK and give them some time and space to recover. That really is all it takes to help. How else can you help someone having a meltdown?

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