Hi there – I am the mother of a 17 year old son who has Severe ADHD, Anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorder, Asperger’s – although he is very high functioning.
Your description of your meltdowns is so similar to those of my 17 year old son. When he was younger I was able to see signs from his body language and behaviour that he was building towards a meltdown. However, in the last 2 years or so it has become increasingly more difficult to see these signs until the meltdown is imminent.
His triggers tend to be too much activity going on around him (ie: lights, noise, our dogs barking, his little brother playing, me yelling, etc). Sometimes if the temp is quite warm this creates an issue for him. Also, his anxiety can cause a meltdown. If he feels stressed about schoolwork, deadlines, too much pressure this is also a trigger.
If we can catch him before he blows we generally tell him to go into a dark, quiet room away from everything (all distractions). We suggest he practice deep breathing and try to stay there for at least 10 minutes.
If he has already blown it is very difficult to manage him. We let him express his outward angry behaviour but generally I (his mom) and his little brother will go into another room or go outside. He is usually not capable of any rational thought at this point so it is easier for us to leave the room. Once he has had time to calm down, then we try to have a calm rational discussion about what happened. Sometimes he is not aware of what triggered the meltdown – he needs time to think about it. Sometimes he thinks he has calmed down enough but when we start to analyze it riles him up again. He may need to go back to a quiet space 2, 3 or more times until he has actually calmed down enough for rational thought and behaviour.
In my opinion, along with ADHD goes a level of frustration with a somewhat low threshold – I find it doesn’t take alot to make my son easily frustrated. This might be one of your triggers too.
I’m not sure if this information will help you but at least you will know that you are not alone. Try to remember that ALL of us have days with “blips” – even those of us without ADHD. Your blips are just more noticeable.
You might want to look into some books about anger management as they might have helpful suggestions. I have recently started reading books “Scattered Minds” – they have various selections for teens, adults, etc.
Good luck and tell your wife to hang in there. Along with the chaos of your ADHD are some AMAZING traits – I wouldn’t change these in my son for anything!!!!