How long do meltdowns usually last?
Most meltdowns in children last between five and 15 minutes though I have heard of some lasting 45. The lower end of this range is probably due to the amount of energy that an Aspie expends on the meltdown itself. Older and stronger children would obviously be able to continue their meltdown behavior for a longer period than younger ones.
How then, do meltdowns manifest themselves in adults who obviously are much stronger than children.
This one is quite difficult for me to answer because any sense of time disappears during a meltdown. I believe however that I have not gone over the 45 minute mark. I am not sure whether meltdowns are sustainable over a longer period.
The violent adult meltdown
Although there is some suggestion that the violent adult meltdown could lead to mass murderous tendencies (Port Arthur Massacre - Australia 1996), there is much to suggest that this incident can not be blamed solely on the Asperger's condition. In particular, Martin Bryant's Aspergers diagnosis was disputed by a forensic psychiatrist working with his defense team and there were obviously other mental factors at work, including a sub-normal IQ (estimated at 66). Low IQ's are not associated with the Aspergers condition.
Turning a normal meltdown violent
There have been very few occasions where I personally have had a violent meltdown and although furniture or walls would generally be the main victims, there have been times when I've struck people.
What makes an adult aspie in meltdown lash out at people?
- Other adults being physical first
- Other adults throwing objects first
- Adults hurling abuse at the aspie in meltdown
- Adults taunting or laughing at an aspie in meltdown
- Adults refusing to leave the personal space of an aspie in meltdown
I think it should be fairly obvious from this list that if other adults behave irresponsibly around an aspie in meltdown, they can escalate the problem.
What can/should the Aspie in Meltdown do?
Leave the vicinity of any non-tolerant adults. Preferably retiring to a lockable (by the aspie) isolated room. If the aspie is engaged in an activity which brings on a meltdown (ie: malfunctioning computer). They should leave the activity for that day and resume fresh on the following day instead.