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How to Recover from Autistic Burnout

How to Recover from Autistic Burnout

Burnout is an unfortunate part of life, and everyone can experience it. This is especially true for autistic burnout. While this state is often defined by debilitating mental or physical exhaustion, there’s another aspect of autistic burnout everyone who experiences should know, and that’s autistic burnout recovery.

It can be difficult for a person with autism to pull themselves out of autistic burnout. However, once they are able to recover, the person can recognize the signs and symptoms and hopefully prevent autistic burnout in the future.

Unfortunately, burnout often brings the feeling of anxiety too. If you’d like to learn how to manage these feelings, make sure you download your free guide here:

What is autistic burnout?

Autistic burnout is often a drain on a person’s mental and physical health. The autistic community often experiences burnout when they are overwhelmed from coping with the demands of everyday life in a neurotypical world.

Some autistic burnout symptoms include:

  • sensory overload,
  • low energy levels,
  • avoiding special interests,
  • struggling with executive functioning skills,
  • high-stress levels.

Much like other kinds of burnout, autistic burnout can also contribute to depression, which will prolong many of the burnout symptoms. However, one of the best ways to both prevent and recover from autistic burnout is to identify the causes.

What causes autistic burnout?

There are many factors that contribute to an autistic person experiencing burnout. Some of these causes include:

  • too much stress,
  • masking,
  • sensory sensitivities,
  • unmet sensory needs,
  • or trouble coping with everyday life.

All of these potential causes can lead to the autistic person becoming overwhelmed with day-to-day activities, which sends them into burnout.

Undue stress can lead to sensory overload. Masking happens when someone with an autism diagnosis hides some of their tics and behaviors to fit in more in a neurotypical setting.

Autistic teen experiencing burnout https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autistic-burnout-recovery/

Many on the spectrum experience hypo- and hypersensitivity. Hypersensitive people will often have their sensory needs unmet. Hypersensitive people can become overwhelmed by too much sensory input.

Both need a sensory environment conducive to them to help prevent autistic burnout. Any of these other causes can make it harder to cope with what we have to go through on a daily basis.

Autistic burnout recovery

While experiencing autistic burnout, it’s key for autistic people to take care of themselves. Self-care strategies are some of the most important parts of autistic burnout recovery.

There are very important ways for your loved ones to take care of themselves so they can recover from autistic burnout. Here are some of them.

1. Getting in touch with one’s feelings

Recognizing how much your personal feelings impact autistic burnout is an important part of the recovery process. Both the person experiencing burnout and the caregiver need to recognize the signs and symptoms and how they make autistic people feel.

It can be hard for people on the autism spectrum to recognize the effect their emotions are having. However, helping them understand how their emotions affect autistic burnout can go a long way in helping with recovery.

2. Understanding the cause

Autistic people need to identify the root cause of their burnout if they want to be able to recover from it. If the person is experiencing too much sensory input, removing the sensory triggers will help avoid overload that contributes to burnout.

Masking can lead to emotional exhaustion. Finding a way to take some time when the person doesn’t feel the need to “wear the mask” can help them overcome burnout.

Managing stress in autistic individuals can help them understand the causes of the burnout cycle and recognize ways to prevent it going forward.

3. Managing the cause

Once the cause of autistic burnout is identified, the next step in the recovery process is to identify how to manage the cause. Autistic burnout can cause stress levels to go through the roof, so it’s important for autistic people to find a way to reduce stress to help prevent burnout.

Some ways to manage the causes of stressful situations include:

  • setting boundaries,
  • reducing unnecessary demands on themselves,
  • taking time for themselves,
  • practicing self-care,
  • exploring special interests,
  • and seeking community support.

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Using at least one of these tips can help those on the spectrum as they are recovering from autistic burnout.

4. Taking regular breaks

Burnout can be overwhelming, so it’s important for autistic people to take regular breaks to recharge. Regular breaks can help improve physical and mental health, increase energy levels, and provide a more sustainable life.

There may be days during autistic burnout when it’s impossible to get through a simple “to-do list.” That’s okay. It’s important not to have unrealistic expectations. Autistic individuals need to take care of their emotional well-being to ensure any chance of burnout recovery.

5. Practicing self-care

A major part of preventing autistic burnout is self-care, whether it applies to autistic people or their caregivers. Relaxation techniques can help someone experiencing autistic burnout through their personal recovery. These techniques can include special interests or just taking time to themselves.

Self-care can lead to an increase in mental or physical energy and assist with emotional regulation. It can include spending time alone or with family members or just watching TV. 

Reducing expectations and taking care of their own needs is necessary for autistic burnout recovery.

6. Seeking professional help

Sometimes, autistic burnout can lead to the person feeling overwhelmed to the point they aren’t sure how to recover on their own. Seek support. Mental health often suffers during autistic burnout. A healthcare professional can assist in burnout recovery.

Professionals can help autistic people recognize the causes of their burnout so they can search for ways to manage it. They can also provide helpful links and resources to recognize ways to address burnout going forward.

7. Letting go of shame

Unfortunately, many people who experience autistic burnout also report feeling shame that they aren’t okay. It’s important to not feel ashamed. The saying “it’s okay to not be okay” applies perfectly to autistic burnout and recovery.

It may be hard, but applying self-compassion can help overcome feelings of shame connected to burnout. A person needs to be their authentic self even if they are struggling.

Self-love https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autistic-burnout-recovery/

Recognizing the situation, getting help, and forgiving themselves for being burnt out can lead to mental health improvements and stronger recovery.

8. Learning from experiences

Experience is the best teacher. While going through autistic burnout can be daunting for anyone, using the experience to learn can help prevent future autistic burnout. Learning what sensory stimuli or social interactions could be causing burnout can help you avoid them in the future.

Autistic people can learn not to set or accept unrealistic demands. They can enter each situation with self-knowledge of what can lead to feeling overwhelmed and how to recognize the early signs of burnout. That knowledge can be applied to help prevent going through burnout again.

How to prevent autistic burnout

Once an autistic individual recognizes the potential for autistic burnout, they can work toward a future where it doesn’t recur. This can include taking necessary time off and recharging their battery. Some lifestyle changes may also be in order to help prevent autistic burnout in the future.

This can be tough for people on the spectrum who prefer repetitive behaviors and a daily routine. However, slight changes to the routine can help set up a more beneficial one that manages the potential causes of burnout.

Be kind to yourself

Autistic burnout can lead to depression and increased anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be too much for the person to bear. Recognizing the causes and ways to manage the stressors that led to burnout can help those going through it move into recovery.

There is always hope. It may be hard to figure out the cause or how to adjust to it, but getting support can help an autistic individual self-advocate.

On top of the changes and management needed by the individual, the community at large can help autistic people manage burnout by recognizing adjustments that can be made to make society more inclusive.

Many people with autism enter social withdrawal due to a world that caters to neurotypical people. If they see a more inclusive environment, they will be more likely to seek out support.

We can all work together to make this world a better place. Burnout may feel like the end of the world at times, but it is manageable and preventable. It just takes a community.

FAQs

Q: How do I overcome autistic burnout?

A: Autistic burnout can be overcome by taking care of oneself. This can include getting more rest, taking breaks, avoiding sensory stimulation, establishing routines, and setting manageable limits.

Q: What does an autistic burnout feel like?

A: While there’s no definitive way someone with autistic burnout will act, some symptoms include speech and language difficulties, self-regulation struggles, increased sensory sensitivities, and a need for more sensory input. People going through autistic burnout may also experience mental health struggles and social withdrawal.

Q: How long can an autistic burnout last?

A: There is no set timetable for autistic burnout to last. It can be as short as a few hours or last as long as a few years. Some people never fully recover from autistic burnout, although they may partially recover.

Q: What makes autistic burnout worse?

A: There are numerous stressors that can make autistic burnout worse. Some of these include sensory overload, social demands, routine changes, masking, and unrealistic expectations.

References:

Arnold, S, Higgins, J., Weise, J., Desai, A., Pellicano, E. & Trollor, J. (2021). Investigating autistic burnout #AutBurnout: Final Report. Brisbane: Autism CRC. https://www.autismcrc.com.au/sites/default/files/reports/3-076RI_Autistic-Burnout_Final-report.pdf 

Arnold, S. R., Higgins, J. M., Weise, J., Desai, A., Pellicano, E., & Trollor, J. N. (2023). Towards the measurement of autistic burnout. Autism, 27(7), 1933-1948. https://doi.org/10.1177/13623613221147401

“Having All of Your Internal Resources Exhausted Beyond Measure and Being Left with No Clean-Up Crew”: Defining Autistic Burnout; Dora M. Raymaker, Alan R. Teo, Nicole A. Steckler, Brandy Lentz, Mirah Scharer, Austin Delos Santos, Steven K. Kapp, Morrigan Hunter, Andee Joyce, and Christina Nicolaidis https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/aut.2019.0079.

Raymaker DM, Teo AR, Steckler NA, Lentz B, Scharer M, Delos Santos A, Kapp SK, Hunter M, Joyce A, Nicolaidis C. “Having All of Your Internal Resources Exhausted Beyond Measure and Being Left with No Clean-Up Crew”: Defining Autistic Burnout. Autism Adulthood. 2020 Jun 1;2(2):132-143. doi: 10.1089/aut.2019.0079. Epub 2020 Jun 10. PMID: 32851204; PMCID: PMC7313636

What Is Autistic Burnout? A Thematic Analysis of Posts on Two Online Platforms; Jane Mantzalas, Amanda L. Richdale, Achini Adikari, Jennifer Lowe, and Cheryl Dissanayake; Autism in Adulthood 2022 4:1, 52-65 https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/aut.2021.0021

The post How to Recover from Autistic Burnout appeared first on Autism Parenting Magazine.

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