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Shutdowns and autism

In our article Meltdowns and Autism, we gained a better understanding of episodes of sensory overload that can be overwhelming for individuals with autism, leading to intense emotional outbursts. This time, we will talk about SHUTDOWNS and their impact on individuals on the autism spectrum. 

A shutdown is a state in which a person with autism feels disconnected and overwhelmed by their environment. During this period, the individual may become dysregulated and experience a decrease in their ability to process sensory stimuli, communicate, and socialize. Stressful situations, sudden changes in routines, or sensory overloads can trigger these episodes. 

Individuals with autism may be affected in various ways when experiencing a shutdown. In some cases, they become silent, withdrawn, and seemingly disconnected, exhibiting signs of distress or discomfort. These episodes are not acts of rebellion or misbehavior; they are, on the contrary, responses to overwhelming situations. 

It’s important to distinguish between a shutdown and a meltdown; a shutdown involves withdrawal or disconnection, while a meltdown is an intense emotional outburst manifested through crying, screaming, or disruptive behaviors. Both episodes are responses to stressful situations but require different types of support. 

Creating environments that minimize sensory overload helps prevent shutdowns in individuals with autism. Here are some tips that may help: 

1. Clear communication: Using clear and precise instructions helps reduce anxiety. 

2. Predictable routines: Establishing consistent routines provides security and structure. 

3. Quiet spaces: Offer quiet spaces where the person can take a break if feeling overwhelmed. 

4. Respect for sensory needs: Respect individual sensory sensitivity needs, such as light, noise, and texture. 

5. Emotional support: Provide understanding and emotional support during stressful or anxious moments. 

6. Self-regulation strategies: Assist the person in identifying and using self-regulation strategies, such as the use of sensory objects. 

It’s essential to recognize shutdowns and respect the individuals’ timelines with autism, providing understanding environments and adjustments to minimize the occurrence of episodes. Understanding when they are not feeling well and allowing them space in their safe place, engaging in preferred activities, aids in their self-regulation process. 

by divershines

by divershines

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