The time has come for me to finally write and post the long awaited blog of autism and emotions.
I apologize for this long wait as I kept reminding myself and then forgetting in a vicious cycle.
But I’ve definitely wanted to put in some work for this as I know emotional states can be a lot harder on those with autism than they can others.
To start this off, every site I’ve gone to has stated that autistic individuals have a harder time recognizing emotions in not only others, but themselves as well. This is contrary belief to researchers stating that we don’t feel emotions whatsoever.
In fact, we are more overwhelmed by the emotions we feel more than anything, which can be a big cause of a lot of the meltdowns that happen. Including those individuals who get violent meltdowns. I know I’ve been there and it’s not fun.
But the big reason behind why I wanted to write this post was some of the autism groups I’m in on Facebook have talked a lot lately about how a parent is struggling with their child due to all their routines being changed because of the pandemic.
I know a lot of people have been dealing with a lot of changes, and I totally get that. Changes to this extreme are hard on anyone. But what is it that causes the autism brain to react even harder than others when something in their life has been changed drastically?
Why do people on the spectrum have an overwhelming response to things that are out of their control?
And why do we have a harder time regulating our emotions?
As far as things being out of control, from my experience, it feels like a loss of self when the things around you are changing so much faster than normal that it’s hard to gain control. It’s harder to want to adjust when the unknown keeps adjusting.
It’s a scary sense of never knowing what will ever happen again and trying to find ways to adapt while having to battle inner, and in a lot of other cases outer demons, that don’t seem to be in our control.
Which is why people on the spectrum prefer routines. It gives them the chance to unwind and have a sense of consistent security in their lives.
But how does this affect the ability to regulate our emotions?
I know for me, having that routine helps me to keep my emotions in check. It helps me to have a regulatory sense of self, knowing that I’m ok, and I’m able to find ways to release emotional tension.
But on the flip side, not being able to have a routine can cause a meltdown.
To retouch on meltdowns, a meltdown is a what happens when someone is overwhelmed by their emotions, situation, sounds, or too much going on. Whatever it is that is your final trigger, meltdowns are a result of too much of everything going on and is a way of releasing those emotions.
This is where I want to elaborate more with not just meltdowns but emotions in general.
From my experience, autistic individuals deal with emotions on a grander scale than others. When we are excited, we are very, very excited. When we have a meltdown, it can be a very extreme meltdown. As in there is potential for holes in walls and doors, hurting other people, hurting yourself, or full on extreme crying.
Most people assume meltdowns are tantrums, which never is the case. Tantrums are a result of not getting what you want. Meltdowns are a result of the brain processing too much all at once.
And because of meltdowns, happiness, sadness, anger, and whatever else you experience, I truly believe that emotional regulation is based off of having a routine of some sort. It helps us know that there are certain things that we have to look forward to that will help us keep calm.
I know I tried many times to look up autism and emotions and I didn’t get anywhere except for ways to help a person avoid having a full blown meltdown. Which, I do agree is a way to be able to help but the ways that were suggested can differ from person to person.
Some suggestions were: keep a lookout for triggers while out shopping, bring noise cancelling headphones in case of loud noises, keep an eye out for change in behavior, etc.
Granted yes these are simple but, anyone who has an autistic child or adult in their life is mostly prepared for these suggestions anyway. Which is why I chose not to add them.
But I do want to say, if you have moments of needed to break a child or adult’s routine, I highly suggest bringing that change up to them as far ahead of the change as possible and as many times as needed leading up to it. As well as guiding through the transition of that change.
I will add, this does not apply to everyone as some are more easy going about changes than others but to avoid others having a meltdown and helping out with emotional regulation, I do suggest going with the things I have listed.
But, you know your autistic person and I will keep saying this, do what’s best for that person.
I hope this was a decent post for you all and I’m so sorry this took longer than anticipated for it to finally be posted. Thank you for your patience and sticking with me through this