Autistic burnout is something that a good number of people on the autistic spectrum have struggled with at some stage of their lives. Autistic burnout occurs when the pressures of everyday life and facing challenges specific to the autistic spectrum prove to be exhausting for the individual on the autistic spectrum. The consequences of autistic burnout include mental and emotional exhaustion, loss of motivation and a loss of skills. Autistic burnout is something that is very difficult to deal with when it happens, and in my opinion is one of the biggest challenges that people on the autistic spectrum face. In this blog post, I wanted to discuss 4 reasons why autistic burnout is particularly hard to deal with, as well as briefly talk about what others can do to help someone struggling with autism burnout.
It’s not a problem that neurotypicals know about or can relate to
If you asked 100 neurotypical individuals whether they are familiar with autistic burnout, around 99 would say no. This is understandable, because if you don’t know someone on the autistic spectrum, then you probably wouldn’t have come across autistic burnout. Furthermore, if you aren’t on the autistic spectrum then you won’t be able to relate to many of the challenges that autistic burnout causes. This can make it difficult for people on the autistic spectrum to open up to others about the challenges they face with autistic burnout. I know that there is a lot of people that would say that talking about worries always helps. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that it can be very daunting for someone on the autistic spectrum to open up about their struggles with autistic burnout to other neurotypicals that aren’t familiar with autistic burnout. This is because the person on the autistic spectrum would have to spend time explaining what autistic burnout is to the person they are opening up to in addition to the specific challenges they are facing with it.
Autistic burnout often happens due to things building up over a period of time
As mentioned before, autistic burnout happens due to struggling with particular challenges for a period of time. The mental toll of trying to cope with these challenges accumulates over time, and things inevitably gets to a point where it becomes too much which results in autistic burnout. One example could be moving to a new city, which requires adjusting to change. A good number of people on the autistic spectrum find adjusting to change particularly difficult. If the move to the new city in question turns out to be more stressful than expected for whatever reason then this would heighten the challenge faced when it comes to adjusting to change. This will lead to high levels of stress and anxiety prior to the move to the new city, during the move in, as well as after the move in. These high levels of anxiety when it comes to adjusting to change would have been there for a fairly long period of time, and long enough in that it can build up to the point of autistic burnout. As autism burnout is something that builds up over a period of time, it can be thought of as reaching a breaking point, where things over that period of time have led to that breaking point being reached. Feeling that you have reached breaking point is a very difficult emotion to deal with, which makes autism burnout hard to deal with.
One of the most common causes of autistic burnout is people on the autistic spectrum struggling to navigate a neurotypical world
One of the biggest challenges for people on the autistic spectrum is trying to navigate a world that is designed for neurotypicals. I write a blog on how people on the autistic spectrum are different to neurotypicals here. If there is one thing that I want people to learn about autistic burnout is that the main cause of it is people on the autistic spectrum struggling to navigate a neurotypical world. If other people don’t understand the autistic needs of that person, then that person is likely to resort to autism masking in some shape or form. Autism masking is mentally exhausting, and if it’s done over a sustained period of time then it inevitably leads to autistic burnout. This makes autistic burnout hard to deal with because if autism masking the main cause of it for someone then there is no easy and clear-cut solution to overcome it. You would have to find a solution to overcoming autism masking, which can be difficult as there isn’t always a strong and accessible support system in place for the person on the autism spectrum.
It can take a while to recover from autistic burnout
The above three points all explain why it can take a while to recover from autistic burnout when it happens. For the first point, the fact that the vast majority of neurotypicals don’t know what autism burnout is means that reaching out for support can prove tricky and daunting, particularly if professional support isn’t easily accessible. For the second point, feeling that you have reached a breaking point where events over a period of time have led to that breaking point being reached means that it can take time to even find the mental energy to implement the strategies to overcome autistic burnout. Moreover, it takes time to overcome something that has caused an immense challenge for a long period of time. For the third point, as there are no easy strategies or solutions to reduce autism masking, it can make the process of overcoming autistic burnout harder, especially as autistic burnout is sometimes as a result of autism masking. For someone on the autistic spectrum that is struggling with autistic burnout, it is likely that they are facing two if not all three of the challenges described in the three points above, meaning that the journey of recovery is likely to take a while and have setbacks along the way.
If you are a friend, family member or a work colleague to someone struggling with autistic burnout, it is important to first appreciate that you probably won’t know much about autistic burnout if you don’t know anyone else on the autistic spectrum. You also won’t be able to relate to most the challenges faced if you aren’t on the autistic spectrum. Therefore, it is a lot better to be a good listener and support them in indirect ways rather than claim that you fully understand the challenges of autism burnout and then try to give specific advice. Furthermore, it is also important to understand that everyone in the autistic spectrum is different in that although some people don’t mind being open about their struggles with autistic burnout, others may not want to open about it. Either way, you should provide them a safe space to talk about their worries if they do decide to talk about it with you. Giving them a safe space to talk gives the person reassurance that they won’t feel judged, which in my opinion is one of the best sources of support that you can give someone.