Meltdowns – they’re tough. The term is used by everyone – not just autistic people and ADHDers. It really just means that we’ve reached a point where something in our brains says I’M NOT COPING HERE! and the way a meltdown expresses itself will vary from person to person. For autistic people it is most often due to intense overwhelm/sensory overload.

I want to concentrate specifically on talking about meltdown for ADHDers here. I seem to have written an awful lot with examples for autistic people, many of whom also identify as ADHDers or ADDers, or indeed auDHDers!

Meltdowns can be dramatic: loud, out of control, wild, angry, distraught, frightening (for all concerned). There can be screaming, there can be aggressive and destructive behaviours (see Fern Brady’s brilliantly frank memoir in the Information section). Meltdowns take many forms for different people. I guarantee they’re ALL exhausting to experience and to be around.

A friend and I were talking a while ago and we agreed that we often feel reset after a meltdown. They’re ballistic, they’re not fun for anyone, but we feel that they ultimately do something to clear out the build up of frustration and stress, even if they can leave us apologetic and embarrassed. We don’t feel that relief at the time but certainly afterwards, in amongst the shame waves.

CHADD is an organisation for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – not sure how those words quite resemble CHADD, but let’s not get sidetracked… They have a really interesting page describing something called the ADHD Volcano Model. It really resonates with me. I’ve added the link here, for your interest (there’s a downloadable PDF of the model too). I would love to hear from you via one of The Gentle Autistic Community groups, whether it fits for you.