Jake may have never had one himself, but he’s certainly seen a lot of meltdowns. Even discounting his autistic friends at school, he lives with three autistic people, so they’re a common occurrence in their house. He’s so used to witnessing meltdowns that he knows exactly what to do to help people.
Ben has the sort of meltdowns that the horrible autism ‘charities’ moan about, using them as an excuse to hurt autistic people. When everything gets to him Ben starts screaming, banging his head against the floor as he curls in on himself. People always tell Mum that he’s a naughty kid, but that’s not fair. Because Jake knows how much pain Ben is him, and, unlike most things Ben does, he can’t help it.
Karen’s meltdowns involve crying. She sobs as she rocks backwards and forwards, her hands clamped tightly over her ears. Unlike Ben, Karen needs to be hugged when she’s melting down, so Mum or Dad or Jake hug her tightly as she cries, supporting her as she breaks down.
Dad doesn’t have meltdowns very often. He usually shuts down, staring into space and not responding when someone tries to talk to him. But he sometimes has meltdowns. One time, Jake found him in the bathroom, hunched up on the floor with tears running down his face. He was rocking back and forth, and biting his hand so hard there were deep welts across the backs of his fingers. It scared him to see his Dad like that, but Jake tried to be calm. And he sat down beside Dad and talked to him in a quiet voice and reassured him. When it was over, he helped Dad soak his sore hand in cold water.
“Thanks, Jake,” he said weakly, and he gave him a hug.