Saturday, July 7, 2012
Did you know that there are two ways that autistic individuals can become overwhelmed by sensory stimuli? You have probably heard of the term meltdown. This is an external way of displaying the stress that sensory overload can sometimes cause that may result in violent outbursts, but have you heard of the term shutdown? It is another way for an autistic individual to cope with extreme sensory overload internally.
I had never heard of the term shutdown until a few weeks ago. Once I realized what it meant, I noticed that there are many instances in my life when my mind does shut down. At these times, I may struggle to give simple answers, such as (I work at a grocery store) "where are the CDs located?"
This actually did happen once a few years ago. A customer at the grocery store I work at asked where the CD's were and my mind literally would not respond. I had to fight for a few simple words that made me look like an idiot, in my own critical opinion of my behavior. One of my coworkers had to answer the question for me and looked at me like I was stupid. For the longest time, I felt guilty about not being able to answer a simple question where I knew the answer but could not communicate it. Now, I understand that it was completely beyond my control at those brief moments.
Are there times when you have noticed yourself or your child or anyone on the spectrum seem to shutdown?
While you are thinking about that, here is a very useful video that I discovered earlier today. It was shared by another autistic individual that I am friends with on Facebook. It describes shutdowns quite well. To view the video, click here.