Supporting a colleague having a meltdown

Note: In her blog, Mahlia uses the term ‘meltdown’. It is a response to stress and some prefer to use other terms to describe this.

How to support someone having a meltdown at work

A meltdown is an intense outward response to an overwhelming situation. It can happen when an autistic person becomes completely overwhelmed by their environment and/or situation, which leads to a temporary loss of control. This is then expressed verbally (crying, shouting, screaming) and/or physically (lashing out, kicking, biting). It is by no means a temper tantrum and should never be mistaken for this. Plus, I’d emphasise that the person is by no means being an attention seeker – no one wants to experience a meltdown. Instead, it is simply the sensation of being overwhelmed beyond anything comprehensible, that the body then needs to release these very intense feelings.

I’ve experienced meltdowns in different situations (airports, festivals, workplaces), and they are scary, embarrassing and exhausting, and the after-effect stays with me for days.