View Full Version : Do meltdowns from changes in plan get better?


BellaVita
07-14-16, 11:23 PM
Hey fellow autistics (and others),
This summer is an exciting and happy one for me, and I really want to enjoy it to the fullest capacity. :)

I have this issue, with plans.

I rely on routine and plans to give me support and comfort. They make me feel right.

I do have a problem though - one I hope some can relate to - that when something doesn't go according to plan I have a meltdown.

I feel like it's something I don't have control over - and I wish I could just be more easygoing.

I have a few questions:
Is my brain just wired that way, that when changes I'm not expecting occur or when things don't go according to plan it causes a meltdown? (At age 12, someone once told me I'd be miserable if I always had to have things "go my way" - I wasn't doing it to be selfish like some thought, I had no clue at the time why I was that way or why I had to have things go in such a particular way/didn't handle change. I am not miserable of course I'm a pretty happy person but I still haven't changed a bit when it comes to handling plan changes.)

And - has it gotten a bit better for any of you? If so, how did you do that?

I feel like as if it's a part of my brain I can't change. I guess I want to know if that's really true and if I should just accept that or if as an autistic person there are ways to improve this.

stef
07-15-16, 11:19 AM
I don’t believe I’m autistic, but I have some of these same issues although they don’t usually lead to an actual meltdown. I also rely on routine and plans.

Really I would think your brain is just wired that way. And that’s not wrong! it’s just how your mind works. You can’t change it but you can understand I,t and that might make it easier because acknowledging you’re like this will limit the anxiety when there’s any change of plans, in the first place. It’s not selfish in the least bit and it’s important that those close to you understand this.

For me, it got worse with age but I’m starting to understand this more now so I’m able to deal with it.

Lunacie
07-15-16, 11:54 AM
My granddaughter is 14 now, and with meds, a lot of therapy and a wonderful school teacher, she is doing better.

There are certainly fewer meltdowns, but she still shuts down when she can't cope with changes.

For me, it was the anxiety that caused meltdowns at changes or any hassles. With meds that has gotten better.

Little Missy
07-15-16, 11:59 AM
What kind of meltdown? Screaming and kicking lying prone on the floor or just annoyed and out of sorts?

I really don't care much if plans change. Most of the time it is a huge relief for me.

aeon
07-15-16, 01:49 PM
I rely on routine and plans to give me support and comfort. They make me feel right.

A valuable insight about oneself to start with.

I do have a problem though - one I hope some can relate to - that when something doesn't go according to plan I have a meltdown.

Is the problem having the meltdown itself, or accepting that is part of “what you do?”

I feel like it's something I don't have control over - and I wish I could just be more easygoing.

The changing of the plans you have no control over, and perhaps too, your reaction to a change...
which is hard because what leads to the 2nd part is what makes accepting the 1st so difficult
as opposed to the easygoing you wish for.

Is my brain just wired that way, that when changes I'm not expecting occur or when things don't go according to plan it causes a meltdown?

Maybe. I am familiar with how many “on the spectrum” can have difficulty with changes in
established routines and known plans, but I haven’t read anything about that changing over time,
with self-work, therapy, meds, etc.

And - has it gotten a bit better for any of you? If so, how did you do that?.

Well, I never had meltdowns (OK, did once, but I was in a bad situation), and have usually
been easygoing to a fault. That said:


Accept that the only thing I have control over is myself, and even that is partial.
Accept that the only thing to be counted on is change, the only constant in all the world.
Know that it is human to have expectations, but they also set you up to be disappointed.
Learn to accept and adapt, as opposed to resist and hold on to.
Grow to make my own person a source of support, comfort, and feeling right
(still working hard on this!) as opposed to anything external to my self.


I feel like as if it's a part of my brain I can't change. I guess I want to know if that's really true and if I should just accept that or if as an autistic person there are ways to improve this.

Accept that you feel that way, and then go find out if it is true for you.

And know that there likely are ways to improve this that have nothing to do with your brain,
which is to say, your brain will be your brain, but your relationship with your brain might be
renegotiated to a new set of terms that are more to your liking.

A suggested first step...accept that meltdowns are something you do, be OK with that, and own that...
even if you also have a goal to grow or change. The growth or change can’t begin to grow if its seed
isn’t planted in a fertile soil of self-acceptance and love to begin with.


Cheers,
Ian

Fortune
07-15-16, 02:27 PM
I used to be a lot worse about changes in plans, but over time that has mellowed. I still react badly to change but I don't have meltdowns. Well, not nearly as often.

Little Missy
07-15-16, 03:23 PM
If my plan changes it changes because I made the change. If someone else's plan changes then that is their change, not mine. If something I have no control over changes, there is nothing I'm able to do about that change.

I think.:confused:

And plans usually don't work anyway, I just wing it.

Corina86
07-15-16, 04:28 PM
I'm not autistic, I'm horrible at following my own plans and I've only had meltdowns due to sensory issues, but unexpected unpleasant changes can cause some nasty temper outbursts. So I try to include as many variables as possible when thinking about the future. If someone sets a meeting at 6 pm, it will start anytime between 6-7 pm; 12 people confirm they'll be at my birthday means I'll have between 8 and 16 guests; if I to go to the store, on my way there I'm already mentally preparing myself for the possibly of it being closed. I always make a lot of scenarios, so I'm rarely surprised by anything. I'm not sure if it's a good coping method or if it's even possible to do so unless it's in your nature, it might contribute to anxiety, but it sort of works for me.

People interrupting me from what I'm doing almost always results in a very nasty reaction. Then I regain control over my behavior and act nicely, but I don't know what to do to stop that first outburst.

BellaVita
07-15-16, 07:48 PM
I donít believe Iím autistic, but I have some of these same issues although they donít usually lead to an actual meltdown. I also rely on routine and plans.

Really I would think your brain is just wired that way. And thatís not wrong! itís just how your mind works. You canít change it but you can understand I,t and that might make it easier because acknowledging youíre like this will limit the anxiety when thereís any change of plans, in the first place. Itís not selfish in the least bit and itís important that those close to you understand this.

For me, it got worse with age but Iím starting to understand this more now so Iím able to deal with it.

I like that: "you can't change it but you can understand it."

Your post helped me feel a bit better, thanks.

I hope you can find ways to deal with changes in plan too. :)

BellaVita
07-15-16, 07:50 PM
My granddaughter is 14 now, and with meds, a lot of therapy and a wonderful school teacher, she is doing better.

There are certainly fewer meltdowns, but she still shuts down when she can't cope with changes.

For me, it was the anxiety that caused meltdowns at changes or any hassles. With meds that has gotten better.

That's good to hear about you and your granddaughter.

I realized, I think one of the reasons meltdowns occur from changes in plan (I'm sure there are more), is that I know my spoons are limited and I only have enough mental resources for *that one plan.* So then I feel like I'm spiraling because I feel I don't have mental resources to adapt. That's part of it, at least.

BellaVita
07-15-16, 07:52 PM
What kind of meltdown? Screaming and kicking lying prone on the floor or just annoyed and out of sorts?

I really don't care much if plans change. Most of the time it is a huge relief for me.

Autistic meltdown. I don't really want to share details, but if you google the symptoms of autistic children meltdowns mine are not much different.

It's something that's really not fun to go through.

BellaVita
07-15-16, 07:59 PM
A valuable insight about oneself to start with.



Is the problem having the meltdown itself, or accepting that is part of ďwhat you do?Ē

Probably both. And feeling like I want to prevent them.

The changing of the plans you have no control over, and perhaps too, your reaction to a change...
which is hard because what leads to the 2nd part is what makes accepting the 1st so difficult
as opposed to the easygoing you wish for.

Maybe. I am familiar with how many ďon the spectrumĒ can have difficulty with changes in
established routines and known plans, but I havenít read anything about that changing over time,
with self-work, therapy, meds, etc.

Well, I never had meltdowns (OK, did once, but I was in a bad situation), and have usually
been easygoing to a fault. That said:


Accept that the only thing I have control over is myself, and even that is partial.
Accept that the only thing to be counted on is change, the only constant in all the world.
Know that it is human to have expectations, but they also set you up to be disappointed.
Learn to accept and adapt, as opposed to resist and hold on to.
Grow to make my own person a source of support, comfort, and feeling right
(still working hard on this!) as opposed to anything external to my self.


The one about the only thing to be counted on is change does not make me feel well. :eek:

But I'm really glad you've found things that help you, and I thank you for sharing your list.

Accept that you feel that way, and then go find out if it is true for you.

And know that there likely are ways to improve this that have nothing to do with your brain,
which is to say, your brain will be your brain, but your relationship with your brain might be
renegotiated to a new set of terms that are more to your liking.

That's a good way to look at it, thanks.

suggested first step...accept that meltdowns are something you do, be OK with that, and own that...
even if you also have a goal to grow or change. The growth or change canít begin to grow if its seed
isnít planted in a fertile soil of self-acceptance and love to begin with.


Cheers,
Ian

Thanks Ian. :)

BellaVita
07-15-16, 08:00 PM
I used to be a lot worse about changes in plans, but over time that has mellowed. I still react badly to change but I don't have meltdowns. Well, not nearly as often.

Ah, okay. Thank you.

BellaVita
07-15-16, 08:02 PM
If my plan changes it changes because I made the change. If someone else's plan changes then that is their change, not mine. If something I have no control over changes, there is nothing I'm able to do about that change.

I think.:confused:

And plans usually don't work anyway, I just wing it.

I so wish I could "just wing it" sometimes, that sounds so freeing.

I need to plan to "just wing it" some time. ;)

BellaVita
07-15-16, 08:07 PM
I'm not autistic, I'm horrible at following my own plans and I've only had meltdowns due to sensory issues, but unexpected unpleasant changes can cause some nasty temper outbursts. So I try to include as many variables as possible when thinking about the future. If someone sets a meeting at 6 pm, it will start anytime between 6-7 pm; 12 people confirm they'll be at my birthday means I'll have between 8 and 16 guests; if I to go to the store, on my way there I'm already mentally preparing myself for the possibly of it being closed. I always make a lot of scenarios, so I'm rarely surprised by anything. I'm not sure if it's a good coping method or if it's even possible to do so unless it's in your nature, it might contribute to anxiety, but it sort of works for me.

People interrupting me from what I'm doing almost always results in a very nasty reaction. Then I regain control over my behavior and act nicely, but I don't know what to do to stop that first outburst.

Thank you for this! I wonder if that's something I should try. Somehow. Trying to think of variables and plan for those mentally.

I wonder how I could approach this. I really like it. I think sometimes too I'm so black-and-white that I have trouble seeing another way. I think it can be worked on.

And sometimes (often actually) as said in a previous post, part of it is I think that I know that I have limited mental resources and I only have enough for the plan going one way and if it goes another way I feel I don't have the mental resources to adapt/use more spoons for the new change.

DJ Bill
07-15-16, 08:15 PM
I don't get classic meltdowns but sometimes I do get quite out of sorts. I dunno if it is ADD or Aspergers, although the test that seems to be used here a lot did say it is highly likely I am on the spectrum.

It makes more sense to me now than it used to....as the pressure builds up it comes to a point where I get really angry to the point of doing damage to something. I remember bashing my brother's bike as a kid and a few years later running over our mailbox with my pickup in anger.

I get those same feelings starting up nowadays when something unexpected is sprung on me or my plans get changed by others, or someone doesn't want me to do whatever my way. I think my meds have helped with this a little, as well as my 12 step work.

Good topic.

Fuzzy12
07-15-16, 08:26 PM
Bella I'm not autistic but I absolutely hate changes and I do sometimes have a little melt down when someone or something changes my plan. Or a big one. Even little changes can freak me out.

It might be part of your brain or it might be a coping mechanism against anxiety, which I think it is in my case. Fixed plans make me feel more in control when everything else (ny thoughts, emotions and actions) seem.so.out of control. Also I guess the hope is that if everything goes according to.plan there's less opportunity for me to.screw up...of to face situations I don't like facing.

I don't think there's anything wrong with you for not wanting to change plans (or with me) but I guess if there are ways to improve how you deal with changes it might avoid the melt downs which I'm assuming might be rather unpleasant.

Sometimes what helps me is to give up control.completely. What I find is the worst when I'm stuck with doing half of my plan and half of someone else's plan. Somehow that requires a lot of effort and just doesn't work. I don't know how to merge two plans so I just give up on one of them.

Also I'm not sure how helpful this is but maybe thinking about the worst case scenario with a plan change might make you realise that the worst case in most cases isn't that bad...irrespective of any changes.

I guess it's impossible to avoid changes but maybe it's normal to not really welcome them. Especially when you are sort of used to life being out of control.

More than anything I guess don't beat yourself up about being this way. If you feel resistance to a plan change, even if that resistance seems unreasonable or petty ( which is often how I feel.about my resistance) don't berate yourself for feeling that resistance.

Little Missy
07-15-16, 08:39 PM
Yeah, I just re-read what I have written and it sounds far too easy. That is what my pragmatic thinking tells me.

What really happens is a lot of stomping around, flurries of invectives, staring off into space...

Little Missy
07-15-16, 08:40 PM
I hate any type of changing, really.

BellaVita
07-16-16, 02:27 AM
I don't get classic meltdowns but sometimes I do get quite out of sorts. I dunno if it is ADD or Aspergers, although the test that seems to be used here a lot did say it is highly likely I am on the spectrum.

It makes more sense to me now than it used to....as the pressure builds up it comes to a point where I get really angry to the point of doing damage to something. I remember bashing my brother's bike as a kid and a few years later running over our mailbox with my pickup in anger.

I get those same feelings starting up nowadays when something unexpected is sprung on me or my plans get changed by others, or someone doesn't want me to do whatever my way. I think my meds have helped with this a little, as well as my 12 step work.

Good topic.

Thanks for the post, it was nice to read.

I'm glad meds and your 12 step have helped you.

:)

BellaVita
07-16-16, 02:36 AM
Bella I'm not autistic but I absolutely hate changes and I do sometimes have a little melt down when someone or something changes my plan. Or a big one. Even little changes can freak me out.

It might be part of your brain or it might be a coping mechanism against anxiety, which I think it is in my case. Fixed plans make me feel more in control when everything else (ny thoughts, emotions and actions) seem.so.out of control. Also I guess the hope is that if everything goes according to.plan there's less opportunity for me to.screw up...of to face situations I don't like facing.

Thanks for your entire detailed post. It's good to know someone can relate.

I think for me, it's similar to what you wrote, but instead it's more of the world around me feels chaotic and creating plans and routine makes the chaotic world feel more in order.

I don't think there's anything wrong with you for not wanting to change plans (or with me) but I guess if there are ways to improve how you deal with changes it might avoid the melt downs which I'm assuming might be rather unpleasant.

Sometimes what helps me is to give up control.completely. What I find is the worst when I'm stuck with doing half of my plan and half of someone else's plan. Somehow that requires a lot of effort and just doesn't work. I don't know how to merge two plans so I just give up on one of them.

Also I'm not sure how helpful this is but maybe thinking about the worst case scenario with a plan change might make you realise that the worst case in most cases isn't that bad...irrespective of any changes.

Hmm, at a rational level I think that would help. But I'm not too rational when it comes to plan changes pretty often, I need things to go in a certain way, and even a small change in detail can feel really bad and I have a hard time realizing it's not.

I guess it's impossible to avoid changes but maybe it's normal to not really welcome them. Especially when you are sort of used to life being out of control.

More than anything I guess don't beat yourself up about being this way. If you feel resistance to a plan change, even if that resistance seems unreasonable or petty ( which is often how I feel.about my resistance) don't berate yourself for feeling that resistance.

Thanks, I don't usually beat myself up about it, since I kinda do know this is a part of being autistic, but I do feel bad when the meltdown is happening. And I wish to have them less frequently so that things go smoother.

BellaVita
07-16-16, 02:46 AM
My husband and I (:D) talked about this, I told him about some things that were suggested here.

Corina's post gave us an idea - and so we're going to try this:

When something doesn't go according to plan, and (hopefully) before I go into meltdown(try to catch it in early stages), my husband will say in a gentle voice (something like), "How about a compromise?" (and he will help by sounding soothing so I can stay calm)

Because in the moment I usually can't see that there can be such a thing as another plan that is good, because I'm so stuck on that one plan.

So him saying that will help nudge me in the direction to do this: And then I (since coming up with plans is hard for him) will try to come up with other things that we could do instead/different options that I still like.

That way, it takes the focus off of the plan change being something bad, and provides a positive thing for me to think about. It shifts my mind to something good and gently helps me to stop being so stuck.

We did a practice of this thing earlier today about a real thing that looks like it might not go according to plan(which I already had a meltdown about in the past), and it went pretty well. That way the practice was about something that caused real emotions in me and I got to experience it in a controlled setting.

I hope this will help. I'm sure it won't always be successful, because sometimes I have meltdowns and they simply couldn't be prevented, but I think this will help to start preventing some meltdowns.

Also, having this plan/script set in place for when things don't go according to plan, comforts me, because it adds some predictability.

stef
07-16-16, 02:55 AM
That's excellent!!!

i was going to ask you, does it upset you when a plan changes for'an easier one? ( or something is just cancelled and you werent especially looking forward to it), or if it's something that requires an equivalent energy? ( like going to restaurant A instead of restaurant B, but they are in the same area and you like them both)
just wondering! i am ok with these usually, it really is awful if the new plan involves something more complicated.

BellaVita
07-16-16, 03:11 AM
That's excellent!!!

i was going to ask you, does it upset you when a plan changes for'an easier one? ( or something is just cancelled and you werent especially looking forward to it), or if it's something that requires an equivalent energy? ( like going to restaurant A instead of restaurant B, but they are in the same area and you like them both)
just wondering! i am ok with these usually, it really is awful if the new plan involves something more complicated.

I think I'm just naturally resistant to any plan changes, but some are worse than others I think.

Hmm for an easier one, I think I sometimes have trouble seeing that the plan is easier, because I can get so set on something going "a certain way."

Hehehe, I don't usually use my spoons to go to things unless the thing is important/something I look forward to. It's something I've learned to do to help prevent overload. But back when I was a teen and my schedule was decided for me, I'd be super relieved often to find out a draining social event was cancelled. :D

I'm not sure about the restaurant thing because they overload me and I tend to avoid them. :o (I know it was just used as an example)

I think it really just depends on the situation.

Something happened the other day that I was proud of, that most people would find to be silly. I was really looking forward to for a long time to get x food item that I found out was finally available(I waited for months, I know, like I said silly) then come to find out it wasn't possible to get that item due to a plan change, and I on my own said "how about y food item instead because I like that and I know where to get it." I turned out to enjoy the food item, too.

Sounds super easy to most but I was proud of myself in that moment, lol.

stef
07-16-16, 03:20 AM
A new restaurant overloads me actually
no its not silly at all! and if you keep on doing these things you will build strength.

Lunacie
07-16-16, 10:19 AM
My husband and I (:D) talked about this, I told him about some things that were suggested here.

Corina's post gave us an idea - and so we're going to try this:

When something doesn't go according to plan, and (hopefully) before I go into meltdown(try to catch it in early stages), my husband will say in a gentle voice (something like), "How about a compromise?" (and he will help by sounding soothing so I can stay calm)

Because in the moment I usually can't see that there can be such a thing as another plan that is good, because I'm so stuck on that one plan.

So him saying that will help nudge me in the direction to do this: And then I (since coming up with plans is hard for him) will try to come up with other things that we could do instead/different options that I still like.

That way, it takes the focus off of the plan change being something bad, and provides a positive thing for me to think about. It shifts my mind to something good and gently helps me to stop being so stuck.

We did a practice of this thing earlier today about a real thing that looks like it might not go according to plan(which I already had a meltdown about in the past), and it went pretty well. That way the practice was about something that caused real emotions in me and I got to experience it in a controlled setting.

I hope this will help. I'm sure it won't always be successful, because sometimes I have meltdowns and they simply couldn't be prevented, but I think this will help to start preventing some meltdowns.

Also, having this plan/script set in place for when things don't go according to plan, comforts me, because it adds some predictability.

Sometimes my granddaughter becomes fixiated on one particular plan (like stopping for a treat on the way home from camp) and if it can't happen she has a meltdown.

I don't know if offering a compromise would work at those times, but it's worth giving it a try. :)

aeon
07-16-16, 01:52 PM
flurries of invectives

Early winter weather in my personal hell. :lol:

sarahsweets
07-16-16, 03:26 PM
i used to pride myself on being flexible, laid back and quick with plans that change. As Ive gotten older I dont see that as much. Sure i can come up with an idea for a sonic run at midnight but if thats what I set out to do and sonic turns out to be closed or something its sends me down the rabbit hole. And my morning routine is vital. I get up at the same time and do the same things and during the school year I get really bent out of shape if someone dares to get up when I get up. Then they start talking to me and asking me stuff and it messes up my mojo.

BellaVita
07-16-16, 05:20 PM
Sometimes my granddaughter becomes fixiated on one particular plan (like stopping for a treat on the way home from camp) and if it can't happen she has a meltdown.

I don't know if offering a compromise would work at those times, but it's worth giving it a try. :)

I get that way too. :o And it's not because I'm selfish or want to "have the world revolve around me" like I was told numerous times growing up, it's just how my brain works because the world being in order and predictable calms me and helps me feel like things are right. So one small detail like that, isn't such a small detail, because it disrupts every little way I have had things planned in my head. (Even if I don't know it)

I've done the treat thing before too. For example, it might seem like just an unneeded treat to most, but it is a big deal because 1) I had a lot of build up of looking forward to that treat 2) I know I need that treat because eating it soothes me/it's a form of stimming 3) I need to get my blood sugar up and I can't think of anything else but that treat that would help 4) it messes up future activities such as me sitting in front of the tv enjoying that treat 5) the treat was a way to help regulate my mood and now I can't think of a way to regulate my mood and adjusting to the change of no treat when I already needed help regulating my mood can create a meltdown

Often I don't have reasons listed like that - I can just be so set on me getting that treat/something going a certain way! And when it doesn't happen, I meltdown, because my brain is so stuck and I don't have the mental ability to move on beyond that certain thing. And don't often have the mental "juice" /resources it takes to adjust to the new reality. (And most often don't even know how)

I really think it also has to do with this:

So really without that treat, it creates a ripple effect that disrupts my entire routine.

That's why a little thing is not such a little thing.

That said - I think this script I have set up won't work all the time, but I am hoping it will at least work some times.

Lunacie
07-16-16, 05:33 PM
Yes, we can tell my granddaughter gets stuck and either can't or doesn't know how to let that go and cope with anything else.

And no, it's not being "selfish" or "manipulative" or any of the other labels her teachers used in the first 5 years.

It's what she needs. We don't have to know why she needs whatever it is, we just have to accept that she needs it.

So whenever possible she gets what she needs, and when that isn't possible we wait until she can let it go and figure out if something else will work instead.

BellaVita
07-16-16, 05:35 PM
Yes, we can tell my granddaughter gets stuck and either can't or doesn't know how to let that go and cope with anything else.

And no, it's not being "selfish" or "manipulative" or any of the other labels her teachers used in the first 5 years.

It's what she needs. We don't have to know why she needs whatever it is, we just have to accept that she needs it.

So whenever possible she gets what she needs, and when that isn't possible we wait until she can let it go and figure out if something else will work instead.

Sounds like she has a great family around her. :grouphug:

Lunacie
07-16-16, 06:02 PM
Sounds like she has a great family around her. :grouphug:

:grouphug:

It took awhile to get this way, a lot of reading, a lot of joint therapy. Parents that won't make the effort ... gah.

Pilgrim
07-31-16, 06:09 AM
Firstly, little meltdowns don't bother me, I know they will be over quick.

Where I live if someone moves certain things around I can get really perturbed.

Some things I can't change I just try to be ready as I can and trust the process, or I couldn't cope.

To be honest I have wondered sometimes if I sometimes have more than just ADD , because of where my thinking goes, it's more than just anger.

I cope a lot better than I use to and I feel this a big plus.