Autism: How Bad News Can Cause A Meltdown


On Wednesday my autistic son suffered a massive autistic meltdown and had to be restrained by six teachers. Six teachers.

Nobody really knows why the meltdown occurred, but he has been excluded from his school for 30 days. Given his age (almost 16) and the fact that he is violent and strong, it’s almost certain that he shall not be returning. He apparently wants to move on to the college that he shall be attending in September (I believe it’s a college specifically for autistic students). He is tired of school and the restrictions imposed on him there.

I didn’t hear of this until early this evening when my mother called me – and even then she left the news until just before she had to go.

It is Sunday and nobody thought to let me know that my son has been excluded from the school that he’s been attending since he was four years old.

I did my best to remain rational and sensible. This is a very difficult thing to do when you are autistic yourself.

I called R’s foster father and gained details from him. I have to say that I agree with everything he said: R is frustrated, feels held back and is unable to express himself. He becomes angry, frustrated and violent when he can’t make himself understood. Going back to the school would definitely be detrimental to him when he’s visited the college and loves it. He is keen to learn and feels held back at school – or that’s the impression we all get, anyway.

I then emailed his school asking why I had not been told about this. I still maintain parental responsibility, I sign release forms to allow him to go on school holidays etc… and nobody contacted me.

Once I got those two calls out of the way I felt it building inside me.

The Meltdown. The awful moment when you realise that you’re entering autistic emotional overload – and there’s not a thing that you can do about it.

I felt my brain buzzing, my body thrumming. My left hand curled in to a fist and began to beat rhythmically against the mattress. I began to hyperventilate; then I began to cry and scream. The inside of my bottom lip has been chewed to pieces.

I tried to curl up in to a ball, but D cuddled me and let me cry.

I am still not good, but I’m better than I was. It hurts to know that an SN school couldn’t cope with my beloved son when an NT school somehow managed to cope with me.

It hurts even more to know that I was the last to find out. By my own choice he is not in my care, but I maintain a close relationship with him… so surely this can’t be right?

Image Via Google

Autism is still not properly understood. This truly needs to be addressed.

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About The Hairy Housewife

Media volunteer for Epilepsy Action (UK) and advocate for both epilepsy and autism awareness. Seamstress, cross-stitcher, sci-fi lover, ukulele player and Chelmsford's own Pickling Pagan who wants to inherit a TARDIS when she grows up. In the process of writing an as yet unnamed book, with anecdotes and information about being epileptic and autistic - and seeing the funny side! Also an entertainment journalist for What Culture, where I write about Doctor Who.
This entry was posted in 2012, Autism, Autism Awareness. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Autism: How Bad News Can Cause A Meltdown

  1. I am so sorry. What a shock. I am glad that you have such an understanding and nurturing partner. Your son seems to have turned his face tot he future, and is ready for a fresh start in a new school. I hope that he is okay, and that you are okay. My thoughts are with you both.

    • Missus Tribble says:

      There was always a risk that the school may not be able to keep him on because of his temper, but I didn’t expect things to ever end like this! He is perfectly happy in wide-open spaces (especially if it’s outdoors and involves trees and birds) and so I suspect that he suffered some kind of sensory overload that day due to close confines, noise, colour and lights. Unfortunately he is non-verbal and so he is unable to express himself.

      He’s due for a mental health asessment soon, because of this outburst. I hope somebody at least bothers to tell me of anything they find.

  2. katkasia says:

    I couldn’t agree with Naomi more. Not informing you seems very thoughtless.
    I hope you are both OK now – I imagine having a meltdown must be emotionally and physically exhausting. Moving on to college sounds like a positive move, especially if your son is looking forward to it.

    • Missus Tribble says:

      I can’t speak for other autists, but when I have a meltdown I am left physically and emotionally drained, with a headache, nausea and complete loss of appetite. I suppose you could call it normal stress with a special ingredient added if you try to look on the bright side!

  3. DigForTea says:

    They should inform you by letter. Ask for a copy when you feel up to it xxx

    • Missus Tribble says:

      I emailed the school asking for an explanation right after contacting the foster family. I explained who I was and what I knew and asked why I hadn’t been informed.

      Then I had a meltdown of my own :(

      • DigForTea says:

        Schools get hundreds of emails a day, so ring them up if you haven’t had a response. Take care xx

      • Missus Tribble says:

        My sister will know if it’s term time at the mo; I’ll get in touch with her and find out :)

  4. Jojo says:

    I’ve gone through NT schools as well and I have felt held back by the structure and limitation they put on creativity. I think the best environment for a child or adult with autism is a place where they are free to express themselves and to study whatever they want without all the extra non-necessary stuff they is put on us. My main problem with college was having to muddle through the Gen Ed courses and not getting to focus all my attention on my Major Degree Program. Also I still have problems focusing, because even though I’m studying what I want, I’m still not able to decide for myself what to write essays on. The essay are assigned and have to be structured in a specific way and I hate, hate, hate that! I’m sorry you and R had to go through this. *hugs*

    • Missus Tribble says:

      It is actually an SN school that R attends, as opposed to NT. This is also the same school who hired a teaching assistant who threw a screaming, frightened autistic teenager into the swimming pool fully-clothed because he didn’t want to swim that day – my nephew.

      So while I ought to be shocked by the school’s behaviour towards my son, I am sadly not.

  5. littlesundog says:

    What a frustrating turn of events! This post (like many of your posts) helps me to realize more about autism. I have a great-niece diagnosed with autism and I am gaining a better understanding through your blog. I am continually amazed at people who have little compassion nor care to act in kindness. Thank you for being so open to expressing your feelings and helping to explain your point-of-view. It really does help me to have understanding and compassion. You are truly a beautiful person, my friend!

    • Missus Tribble says:

      You already have compassion in spades Lori, but I’m so glad that I’m helping you to understand your great-niece a little better. It’s never a case of “When you’ve met one person with autism you’ve met them all” because it’s different for everybody on the spectrum. People tend to forget that.

      Through telling my story I have met some truly wonderful new friends – yourself included – who are either on the spectrum or have children or other relatives who are. It’s very cathartic to all of us to be able to speak out about it and have someone understand :)

  6. willowdot21 says:

    This must all be water under the bridge now but I found it so painful to read. That you were the last to know. It is not your son, it is the school who let your son down..look forward to the next stage in his life, the college. God knows he is lucky to have a Mum who can understand him as well as you do!

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