by Savanna Pietrantonio
FASD Survival Strategy Teacher
In an effort to reframe my understanding of meltdowns I’ve had to look deeper into the meaningful gifts of the meltdown and to change my fear and shame into acceptance that they are always going to be my body’s unique way of communicating with me.
I can go about my life for weeks accomplishing, learning, overcoming and shutting off or hiding the FASD part of me. But I feel everything intensely and emotional and physical distress is a daily part of living with the disability. In my attempt to hide my disability, act normally and bury my feelings I forget . . .
And my body lets me know . . .
I have to learn to respect the meltdown as a symptom of brain damage. I am not being willful, rebellious, purposely destructive or hateful. My brain is telling me that something is wrong and I need to stop everything and ask for help to both get through daily life and to regulate my emotions.
I have discovered eight situations, which cause stress hormones to flood my system, and unfortunately my brain is not equipped to cope with the overload I am asking it to handle.
Sometimes I can handle one or more, but as they add together as life often will, there may be no stopping the ensuing meltdown.
Neurotypical people can manage inherently as the brain balances their self-regulating neocortex with their limbic emotion regulating system—‘wise mind’ and ‘emotion mind’. My brain because of prenatal alcohol damage can’t do that. Messages between these two parts of the brain get stuck like tangled Christmas lights and I am triggered into an emotional spiral down the slippery slope to meltdown.
Read SavAnna's full guest blogpost at
Reasons for FASD Meltdowns
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