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Warning Signs Of Autistic Burnout

Save_FerrisSave_Ferris Citizen, Member
edited October 2020 in Mind and Body Wellbeing

Autistic Burnout – and how it might be burnout, not depression
“The warning signs of Autistic Burnout are actually quite easy to spot if you know what to look for, either from an external point of view, as an observer, or loved one or internally, from an Autistic self’s point of view:

A growing lethargy
An increase in irritability
An increase in anxiety
An increase in over-sensitivity to sensory information
A dramatic decrease in sensitivity to sensory information
Heightened Auditory processing disorder
A decrease in verbal language
A decrease in text language
An increase in Shutdowns and heightened withdrawn state
An increase in the frequency and severity of Meltdowns
A diminished ability for the person to self-regulate their emotional state
The slowing down of the thought processes
Brain fog
Memory loss
A decrease in your ability to effectively communicate what you want
A decrease in motivation
An inability to generate momentum of body and of action
An increase of rigidity, narrowing of thinking
A feeling like your vision is tighter or narrower
Extreme forgetfulness
Extreme overwhelm
A massive increase in guilt
An increase in Executive Dysfunction
An increase in Demand Avoidance

Can you see why it’s often mistaken for Depression?

What you can do about burnout:

“On a basic level, allowing periods of withdrawal, or decompression time at the end of the day, or even throughout the day can make a big difference. Time where [you] can effectively take time to process what has happened throughout the day, shut off external sensory stimulation and basically be inside their own head for a period of time. You may also find that this helps with the level of and frequency of Meltdowns that occur. Especially if you [or your child] Mask and do the coke bottle thing of bottling up everything all day and exploding at home.

Adult or child you need to proper time to withdraw. So even at Social events or Social Situations having an escape plan ready is vitally important. A reason to leave either completely or temporarily, a quiet space or bolt-hole to enable whoever it is to just have some time away from people.

It’s really important to recognise also, that after significantly stimulating or potentially overwhelming events or periods, that the person may need a day or two off of work or school. This may not be realistic, but it is effective. Allowing this decompression time is incredibly important. It allows the Autistic brain and equally the senses, an adjustment period to reestablish whatever the person’s brain or body considers normal parameters.”



  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor

    Autistic symptoms often become more exaggerated or pronounced after some type of trauma or life change of significance.

  • I like that quote about 'normal parameters' Ferris. That's a good way to describe it.

    Are you feeling particularly burnt out lately?

    I think the extra stimuli of Covid has taken its toll on some of us. By extra stimuli I mean the wearing of masks or gloves, and the fact that some of us have less privacy than we've had in the past if our family members are staying at home. It's hard to be around people that much.

    Beyond Covid it's definitely common for us to have burnouts. Mine never really ended in the past six years. I have difficulty with basic functions and can seldom tolerate emotional or sensory input to any degree. I live with the lights shut off, no radio and very, very little television. Maybe every few months I'll watch something.
    Pyjamas. Stim objects. My pillow fort. Venturing into the real world is a very daunting proposition for me and I'm always glad to get home.

  • Save_FerrisSave_Ferris Citizen, Member

    @Isabella I don't think I'm feeling any more burnt out than normal but like you I'm not sure I fully recovered from my last burnout and it's been years ( I haven't regained my full vocab and still still struggle finding the right word sometimes ). I've tried to change my life as much as possible so I benefited but it's still not enough. I kinda have it in my head that once I'm over burnout I won't feel as autistic.

  • Would that be a good thing if you felt less autistic?

  • Save_FerrisSave_Ferris Citizen, Member
    edited October 2020

    Good question. I don't believe autism is my biggest issue but I think my comorbids are a result of it , so in theory less autistic = less comorbids ?

    Then again , my first burnout was like taking the red pill , it opened my eyes , I learnt the horrible truth of the world - I can't unlearn that without a lobotomy

  • I find that everything - comorbids or physical ailments included - can hugely affect my functioning level.

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    I've discussed burnout at length in therapy, as a mutually beneficial topic to help the trauma therapist to understand what being an autistic woman means, while helping me to come to terms with lost skills.
    It meant that we picked apart everything I mentioned, what I realised is that I had used my brain for too many useless/fitting in things.

    It's like an emergency shut down to protect the essential parts.

    I almost had to learn to communicate again, Kraftiekortie helped me with that. Typing, just accessing my communication abilities was painful. Speaking happened only when I had to.

    I dont know if I would class it as a recovery if the skills weren't innate to begin with.

  • Good for you making sure your therapist understands autistic women. I wish burnouts were more widely understood by the medical community but they barely even acknowledge autism in the first place. It's a huge learning curve but I think a lot of us are starting to speak up and be proactive about our needs.

    Yes, an emergency shut down sounds right.

    How did Kortie help you learn to communicate?

    I wish I could improve my verbal communication skill. I sound like a cavewoman most of the time.

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    The way I see it, is that I'm purchasing a service and I would like it to be specific to me, but the reality is that typically people cant relate to experiences that they dont share.

    At least now he could work with another autistic woman and understand the basics.

    I dont mean professional help, more so that he was patient with a very slow communication partner.

    We done a pen-pal type communication through pm, my messages were basic, short, had plenty of errors (like using a similar word but not the right one) and were well spaced out.

    Lots of repetitive type conversations, with a predictable pattèrn.

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