Meltdown and shutdown: sensory overload

Meltdown and shutdown: sensory overload.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a pathology that affects not only those who suffer from it, but also the people around the patient. Many behaviors on the autism spectrum can be complex or confusing. We therefore speak of meltdown (or meltdown) and shutdown (shutdown).


For those who have loved ones with autism it is easier to understand these crises, while for others in general they create misunderstandings. To address the meltdown and shutdown , it’s important to first talk about sensory processing in people with ASD. This type of person processes stimuli from the environment differently leading to hyposensitivity or hypersensitivity. In the first there is difficulty in identifying the pain, in the second there is extreme sensitivity. 

Crashing and shutting down are therefore two consequences or responses to sensory overload . The meltdown is an externalization reaction of the discomfort that the person is experiencing. Switching off is a reaction of internalizing discomfort. Although it is not possible to completely control or avoid these crises, there are some steps that can be taken to counter them . For example, adapting the environment so that it is not so stimulating or demanding. Then it’s important to keep calm, not get angry or yell, and act sensitively. Validating the person’s emotions and accompanying them with respect is important. 


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