Ever wondered why change triggers an epic wave of emotions or Meltdown for many autistics?

The easiest way for me to explain it is by providing a visual metaphor.

I like to call it the lasagna layer effect.

It’s usually an accumulation of things that trigger a meltdown.

For example, I’m going to the beach, I need to take my hat, I can’t find my hat.

I start to get stressed; my anxiety is starting to rise.

Wait ! I find my hat. I start to calm down, I can self-regulate, it’s okay.

Add the first layer to the lasagna.

I arrive at the beach only to find the beach is closed, there’s a shark sighting.

I now am battling with the huge emotion related to disappointment; this is really hard to overcome.

I have to work extra hard to self-regulate. I’ve got it under control but I am feeling agitated.

Add two layers to the lasagna.

As I am walking to the car my brother grabs my hat and throws it on the ground.

Already agitated I want to scream. I count to ten, self-regulate but I am really struggling.

Add another layer to the lasagna

Mum decides to stop at the Cafe to get us an ice cream. I go over to order my usual icecream , but the only icecream I eat is sold out.

This time you can’t add anymore lasagna layers because the tray is full, it’s starting to over flow.

Just like the emotions you have been trying to self-regulate all day.

You may not even notice that we are struggling to self-regulate, because sometimes we aren’t even aware until it’s too late ourselves.

I know from experience, that I am no longer in control of my emotions, when a meltdown starts.


Published by Autistic Perspectives

__________ Summer Farrelly is 15-year-old Autistic Advocate, Public speaker, Inclusion & Education Consultant, Artist, Chicken Whisperer, Animal Assisted Learning Program Creator & Facilitator , Animal Therapies LTD Ambassador and The A List Ambassador. A daughter of a late diagnosed autistic mother and a sister of two autistic brothers. Summer believes her lived experience as an autistic individual and living within a family that consists of multiple autistic members, each with their own complexities, will provide both a relatable and diverse perspective For the last 5 years Summer has been sharing her personal insight and the benefits of human and animal connection. Often stepping out of her comfort zone sharing vulnerable, raw, and real moments of life challenges faced by young autistic teens in hope to educate and inspire others. Summer has become a recognised and valued contributor within the Animal Assisted Learning and Therapy platforms. Summer’s connection with animals has provided her with the strength needed to navigate life as an autistic teen who faces daily challenges of self-harm, ADD, PTSD, anxiety, Reactive depression, and Dyslexia. Summer’s journey is about understanding herself emotionally through their connection with animals more importantly this journey is about understanding herself and practicing self-care. About Animal Assisted Learning Program ‘Chickens to Love’ Summer developed Animal Assisted Learning Program Chickens to Love for Autistic and other Neurodivergent people (this includes anyone who may be ADHD, ADD, ABI or anyone whose brain is not considered “typical”). I created Chickens to Love as an inclusive program, to benefit everyone and include everyone, because neurodiversity is part of biodiversity. We all can benefit from understanding ourselves, our emotions, and the perspectives of others. Our communities must understand and learn the importance of a deeper level of compassion, empathy, and acceptance of differences. Neurodivergent people, are often encouraged or forced to fit in to everyone else’s way of seeing the world. The Cultivation of self-esteem in ones self-starts with self-love, self-acceptance and having the ability to embrace one’s true authentic self. Chickens to Love is designed from a neurodivergent and animal (Chicken) perspective to better understand social dynamics, emotions (ours and other people’s), other people’s perspectives, consent, respectful touch, resilience, self-acceptance, empowerment and how to self-advocate. Animals can change our lives. Never underestimate the power of them!

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