Autistic burnout article

WayneUtify

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Jennilee

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This is an old (2020) article but for those of you who haven't seen it, I think it's excellent.
Yes, pacing ourselves and doing less (instead of forcing ourselves to continue, often coupled with lots of masking) makes sense.

Overall, I find it surprising how little literature on burnout exists, given the frequency with which it's experienced. I like the work of Kieran Rose, Kristy Forbes and Dora Raymaker, but most of the information I can find is merely descriptive, without much in the way of ideas on how to help or support.

"There are countless narratives of autistic adults that describe the act of camouflaging leading to periods of autistic burnout, which often incorporate extreme exhaustion, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation, and are characterized by a drastic decline in capacity to function for days, months, or even years."

And this latter comment is deeply troubling to me, coming from a family in which this has been experienced a LOT. Yes, we can do less, adjust our expectations (of self and others) plus support by maintaining a calm, nurturing, safe environment - low demand, low arousal. But what if it does run to years? Much of what I can find describes burnout as episodic, with people generally emerging after a few days or weeks. Is there anything, anything at all, for families in which it's, say, getting to the 10 year mark?
 

OhIdontknow

New member
Yes, pacing ourselves and doing less (instead of forcing ourselves to continue, often coupled with lots of masking) makes sense.

Overall, I find it surprising how little literature on burnout exists, given the frequency with which it's experienced. I like the work of Kieran Rose, Kristy Forbes and Dora Raymaker, but most of the information I can find is merely descriptive, without much in the way of ideas on how to help or support.

"There are countless narratives of autistic adults that describe the act of camouflaging leading to periods of autistic burnout, which often incorporate extreme exhaustion, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation, and are characterized by a drastic decline in capacity to function for days, months, or even years."

And this latter comment is deeply troubling to me, coming from a family in which this has been experienced a LOT. Yes, we can do less, adjust our expectations (of self and others) plus support by maintaining a calm, nurturing, safe environment - low demand, low arousal. But what if it does run to years? Much of what I can find describes burnout as episodic, with people generally emerging after a few days or weeks. Is there anything, anything at all, for families in which it's, say, getting to the 10 year mark?
I can relate to your last paragraph. In my case autistic burnout has been going on for years! with brief periods of calm. Those of us who are used to masking might find it difficult to say no to a new project or a new activity when we seem to be "idle" or "available" in the eyes of our families or peers. We should resist the expectation to keep moving and doing, and just rest.
 

Jennilee

New member
Yes, I find it enormously difficult. From the inside and for myself it feels as though more space, calm and stability are required, open-endedly. Yet, in my role as parent and looking from the outside I find myself at a loss. It feels as though family relationships are lost or on hold (although I know that, on a deeper level, they persist and, I hope, are being nurtured by giving space and a safe, low demand environment) and also that, as years and years go by, irreplaceable chunks of youth are being taken away by this. It feels tragic to me, I don't know what more to do and the general information I can find seems to peter out when it comes to living with this in the very long term. My fear is of a younger adult coming out of burnout as an older adult and sinking straight into depression due to the loss of those young years. :(
 
Yes, pacing ourselves and doing less (instead of forcing ourselves to continue, often coupled with lots of masking) makes sense.

Overall, I find it surprising how little literature on burnout exists, given the frequency with which it's experienced. I like the work of Kieran Rose, Kristy Forbes and Dora Raymaker, but most of the information I can find is merely descriptive, without much in the way of ideas on how to help or support.

"There are countless narratives of autistic adults that describe the act of camouflaging leading to periods of autistic burnout, which often incorporate extreme exhaustion, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation, and are characterized by a drastic decline in capacity to function for days, months, or even years."

And this latter comment is deeply troubling to me, coming from a family in which this has been experienced a LOT. Yes, we can do less, adjust our expectations (of self and others) plus support by maintaining a calm, nurturing, safe environment - low demand, low arousal. But what if it does run to years? Much of what I can find describes burnout as episodic, with people generally emerging after a few days or weeks. Is there anything, anything at all, for families in which it's, say, getting to the 10 year mark?
Hi
I have experienced burnout a few times in my life. The longest and average is 2 years. The shortest was 7 weeks, but by this point I had received an autism diagnosis. I knew what it was and what I had to do to get myself out of it quick!
I work with autistic adults and I would say the average is 2 years. I work with people on putting strategies in place to recognise what is happening and doing every to reduce input.
Reducing sensory input also appears to be crucial. Limiting meltdowns appears to be key to reducing burnout.
Managing spoons is key
 

Jennilee

New member
Yes, I would love to hear what helped. But also I'm very interested in how families might help or support family members in chronic burnout who wouldn't engage with anyone outside the family, indeed barely engage with anyone inside the family - kind of deep "hikikomori" states which MH services might label as "catatonia" or even "hebephrenia" (a defunct category, I know, but one which has been mentioned to us by a professional).
 
Can you share what worked for you?
Yes first thing I do when I know one is coming is cut social media. The thought of all those notifications and conversations is just added pressure. I limit contact with family and friends. I tell work I will be working from home. I limit any social interactions I can.
I limit sensory input. Wear sunglasses/ear plugs/baseball cap.
I wear tight fitting clothes so that I am getting proprioceptive feedback.
Have a look at the “Aspergers Funnel” video on YouTube. I know tons of people who have said it has helped them get to grips with things.
This is a good Autism version of the spoon theory… https://musingsofanaspie.com/2014/10/15/conserving-spoons/amp/
Basically if you start off a day/week on negative spoons it’s going to edge you towards burnout and more meltdowns.
Since getting an understanding of sensory/information input and energy accounting I really do have a better grip on my life. Albeit not as hectic and a bit boring at times but I’d rather that than another burnout any day.
Hope this helps