As a woman who has autism/Asperger syndrome I experience meltdowns and get overwhelmed from time to time. The same thing applies to neurotypicals/NTs (people who don’t have autism).
One example of an NT on the verge of a meltdown is that of my mum on one occasion. During my first weekend of living in my new flat my parents and I went to my local IKEA to purchase some things for my flat. There was quite a lot of noisy children in the kitchen items area of the shop and when my mum approached me with a cheese grater in hand she said she felt like she was going to have a meltdown due to the noise from the children.
More recently my grandad and I were staying with my parents. He and my mum were watching TV and I spoke. My mum paused the TV so she could hear me talk. When I finished talking my mum resumed playing the programme or film she and my grandad were watching and he spoke to her. At this point I stormed out of the lounge and into the kitchen before going down to the spare bedroom I was staying in because I assumed my grandad was allowed to talk to my mum if she is watching TV or a film but I couldn’t, which I found unfair at first. As soon as I entered the spare room I shouted asking myself why my mum couldn’t be more persistent (although consistent is the word I should have used in terms of her allegedly letting my grandad talk when the TV is on but not me). Shortly my mum came down, knocked on the door and asked me what was wrong. At this point I denied anything was wrong because I am not good at telling those I love and really like if they upset me immediately. My mum added that I’m 30 years old. Not only did this make me feel stupid but it also made me think my mum found it immature of me to shout and have a meltdown. Three days prior my brother, who is also on the autistic spectrum, had a meltdown while he was staying with my parents (he went home the day after I arrived) and while neither my parents nor I found it immature of him to have a meltdown (he is 28 going on 29, has a more severe form of autism than I do and is non-verbal) we all showed concern for him but my dad soon said he was proud of me for coping with my brother’s meltdown very well. After my mum spoke to me I didn’t feel like going out for dinner with her, my dad and my grandad that evening but eventually I decided to tag along with them.
While we had our food I confessed to my mum that I was upset because it seemed as if my grandad was allowed to talk to her when the TV was on but I wasn’t. She then admitted she found it hard to concentrate on the TV as well as my grandad and me talking at the same time and she said she felt overloaded or overwhelmed. She further explained that NTs like her experience those feelings just like those on the spectrum do.
After the evening out my mum kindly said that I could talk to her whilst watching the final of ‘The Great British Bake Off, ‘ which sounded great especially when discussing the programme. We even looked at our phones during the programme so I could Tweet about it and my mum could play Words With Friends on her phone. After the programme I showed my mum a video on YouTube and we talked during the video but I paused it at one point so I could concentrate on listening to her. This made me realise that my mum is not the only one who needed to pause a form of visual media to hear someone talking.
Overall it has dawned on me that anyone can have a meltdown or feel overwhelmed and overloaded at some point whether they have autism or Asperger’s or not. I am glad that my mum eventually reassured me about the matter.