Autistic Meltdowns and Shutdowns

    Autistic meltdowns and shutdowns are both behavioural responses to feeling overwhelmed, overly frustrated, tired and/or experiencing sensory overload. The difference between the two is that meltdowns are outward, and shutdowns are inward responses or behaviours.

    Autistic Meltdowns

    A meltdown is a temporary loss of control of behaviour. This loss of control might be expressed verbally (for example, shouting, screaming or crying),  physically  (for example, kicking, lashing out biting) or both.

    Autistic meltdowns are not the same as temper tantrums.

    Don't say 'meltdown' when you mean tantrum as this can be really insulting to Autistic people and their families.

    Autistic Shutdowns

    A shutdown is when a person may partially or completely withdraw from their surroundings, either physically or mentally. They might be unable to talk (so, unable to respond), might go to a safe place/space, or might lie down on the floor.

    Shutdowns may be more discreet than meltdowns, and can easily go unnoticed as they're not 'loud', however, they are still very real and genuine responses to your friend being/feeling overwhelmed and/or distressed.

    Autistic Meltdown and Shutdown Guide

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    Autistic Meltdown and Shutdown Infographics

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