Meltdowns Suck (but they do get better over time!)

Meltdowns Suck (but they do get better over time!)

Meltdowns really suck. I have been told that shutdowns are a form of meltdowns but I would rather deal with a shutdown any day of the week. Although when he shuts down I know that he is on the edge of a meltdown and I view the shutdown as him shutting himself, preventing the meltdown. Just wanted to clarify what I mean as a meltdown.

Prior to yesterday it had been about 8 months since he had a full blown meltdown, destroy things, move out of his way quick and try to save expensive stuff as you run from the room kind of meltdown. I don’t know whether or not that fact matters although I know if I were reading this from where we used to be that would mean a lot to me.

Where we used to be:

Oh geez the picture changed so much over time. I remember him throwing himself on the floor at age 8 and kicking and screaming but those memories are fading. In 7th grade I was constantly going to the school and picking him up. One day he became upset over something and put his head down. I had told the school to give him space when he does this, I also told them that he didn’t like a particular student teacher and she should never interact with him one on one. What do I know? I am just the stupid parent. Anyways he had his head down and student teacher approached him to try to calm him or something but she is the opposite of calming so he flipped his desk over (hitting her apparently) and then hid under his desk screaming how he was going to take a knife and stab himself because he hated his life. They cleared the room of the other students. They finally got him to leave the room and he left the room screaming and kicking things the whole path to the office. Where they were barely able to contain him. Other times he would beat his head on the floor.

For clarification we (me and his psychologist at the time) were pretty certain he never had intention to kill himself. It was his way of saying he wanted out of the situation. Not a good phrase mix up or whatever it is called, he does that a lot with benign things. This one wasn’t so benign so we have worked to get him to not use phrases like that.

Anyways back to the meltdowns. These meltdowns occurred multiple times a week in 7th grade. It would take him hours and sometimes days to completely recover. I remember in particular one time it took a week. During that week he was mostly non-verbal and communicated mostly with animal noises. His various non-verbal communication methods could be a whole other post, someday I guess. That was a really long week.

During 8th grade he seemed a lot better and the school for the most part listened and gave him space when he put his head down or at least when he would yell “leave me alone”. Anyways the meltdowns became less intense and less frequent. We worked with cognitive behavior therapy and he also started taking Zoloft for anxiety. Not sure how much the medication contributed but I felt it should be noted. He has become better at recognizing when he is becoming agitated. The meltdown that occurred over the summer and yesterday had similar triggers. Something related to friends online either making fun of him or something similar. I have seen him work through these issues with people online over the last 6 months without melting down but something yesterday was clearly different.

Meltdown Yesterday:

He has actually been off Zoloft for a couple of weeks. With his new schedule and through trial and error he is taking all of his meds at night and he can’t take Zoloft at night. I am not sure if this contributed as other than this incident he has been completely fine. All I can do is monitor this.

He was playing Minecraft and skyping with his friends. About 5 minutes prior to the meltdown I remember he made a couple of comments about someone’s mic being off and he couldn’t play with him because of his mic. I am not sure the conversation on the other end but clearly something was said. I then heard my son yell “WHY! COME ON GUYS” and then what sounded like him punching his laptop. I then ran downstairs and he tossed the laptop aside and stormed upstairs to his room. On his way a 12 pack of coke was in his line of sight and it was tossed. This was around 5:30 (text to husband so know time). At this time screaming the F word and about how the world sucks. I followed in to room but kept my distance and asked what happened. “FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING BITCH AND FUCK THE WORLD” Okay well clearly he didn’t want to talk to me. I tried to stay in the room because I always worry about what he will do when he gets upset. He then got mad because I was in his room and went to the bathroom and locked himself in. I could hear him on the other side hitting the door a couple of times and yelling the f word a few more times for good measure.

His friend always waits for him


I sat quietly outside thinking How long?

How long before he quits yelling?
How long before he quits hitting the door?
How long till he tells me what is wrong?
How long before he let’s me comfort him?
How long before he opens the door?
How long must I sit here?
How long till I can breathe?
How long before the next one?

It seems forever but at 6:40 PM I started tweeting and I know I did not start tweeting until he had moved from his bathroom to his bedroom and I felt he was safe.  Laura, who is absolutely wonderful, talked to me about how the meltdown is okay and it is helping him learn.  She told me that I was doing the right thing by giving him space.  She is awesome.

He was very quiet and at 7:55 (per my tweet) I went in to check on him and he was sound asleep.  And just FYI he had locked himself in his room but since I never bothered to fix his door I was able to just push hard on the door and open it.  It doesn’t close right since he always slams it.  So don’t fix your kid’s doors- it comes in handy sometimes!!

Since 2:30 AM he has been watching YouTube, laughing, and seems completely fine.  He still won’t tell me what happened other than to say he isn’t going to play with those kids anymore.  Okay, that is okay.  I even got him to shower today because a friend of mine is supposed to stop by.  He knows this friend and seemed interested in seeing her.  I think we are going to be okay today.

I think overall the meltdown was less intense, less recovery time and they are less frequent.  But even still when it happens it is still scary.  I am not scared for myself, that is not out of naivete actually quite the opposite.  I have worked with Alzheimer patients and in psych units and other violent situations professionally and have established with him that I am not afraid of him and he has learned I can hold my own with him.  I worry mostly about him harming himself.  Although I don’t think he ever would, again based on my experiences and evaluations by other professionals.  But I still stay alert for that.  I also always worry about other people.  He would never intentionally harm anyone but in a rage he does become physically aggressive.  Again when I have been around I can yell his name and he stops.  And just for clarification, even though I have this rapport with him I still am always cautious, keep my distance as long as he is safe, and never let him get between me and the door.



  1. He’s lucky to have a mom who cares so much – Hoping he’s calm and will have a better day! Hang in there!!! 🙂

  2. The world DOES suck. He’s right. Teenage years and high school are hard for any kid, but throw autism into the mix and, well, you know….. Having experienced these things first-hand myself, I can say very emphatically that the sentence at the beginning of your post is just as true for me as it is for you. “I would rather deal with a shutdown any day of the week”.

  3. That must be so hard. Katie has meltdowns and has even said she wants to die, but never to the extent you are describing. You are very strong and he’s lucky to have a mom like you. One who so obviously cares.

  4. I’m glad to hear that meltdowns do get better over time – that gives me some hope! Hoping your boy had a better day today.

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I was the same as a kid as far as meltdowns go…. never would intentionally harm anyone but out of control and melting down was another story. I’ve learned now finally (I’m almost 34) to recognize the signs of Impending Doom and isolate myself so I can calm down before it gets to that point.

  6. Hello! I just recently found out that I am twice exceptional and posses all 5 OEs. I’ve been doing a lot of research and I came across your blog. I just wanted to thank you for writing down and documenting things. I’ve had the exact same experience as your son and just like this post Ive recently had meltdowns very similar. I’m 27 turning 28 and having been living with this for awhile, not diagnosed and thinking I was broken. I believe that he will be an amazing kid especially with your love and support. I dropped out of high school in the 11th grade because I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. You should keep inspiring him to go. I wished I finished but I’ve also lived an incredible life as well. For me, I don’t posses a HS Diploma and I’ve gotten high-end jobs at major corporations like Disney, Sony and IMAX working directly with the CEO and CMO’s. Keep nurturing and helping him get through life. Thanks for the blog. I’m starting to document everything in my life now and will keep checking in. Cheers!

    • Thank you so much for stopping by! You are definitely not broken but society does have a way of making anyone that is different feel that way. Glad that you are now doing so well. My husband and I were just discussing how high school really is not the best place. We are going to continue homeschooling and hope he graduates. Congratulations on your successes, I would love to work for those companies 🙂


  1. […] she knew Sheldon and would work with him in her class.  This was pretty admirable since Sheldon flipped over a desk in 7th grade English hitting a teacher.   It wasn’t perfect but she was at least open to […]

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