Autistic burnout is when:
- The demands of life exceed the mental or physical energy you have to deal with them.
- As you try to cope with this, your energy depletes, and your body struggles to manage things that you may usually find easy.
- The demands may be too much and you may not have support to cope with the demands, resulting in higher levels of stress.
- Because you do not have the energy to manage the situation, you need time/ space/ tools to recover your energy. But if you are unable to get the opportunity to properly recover, your energy reaches 0, and you are in burnout.
Autistic burnout is an incredibly difficult experience where your brain is in overdrive and you always feel stressed.
Signs of burnout include:
- You may find it harder or more overwhelming to do everyday things that you used to find easy (e.g., washing, dressing, sorting and tidying, preparing snacks).
- You may be more forgetful and have difficulty remembering things people have told you, this can be really frustrating!
- It may be harder to make choices, such as choosing what to eat, watch on TV or play with.
- You may find sensory things such as different sounds / sights / smells / tastes / textures around you and the need for different movements either increased or decreased
- You may feel a lot more anxious than usual. This can also make you experience more headaches, tummy aches or other physical symptoms.
- You may feel constantly exhausted, or you may feel a bit like you have too much energy and feel restless and agitated.
- Your sleep and diet may be affected, you may find that you are eating / sleeping more or less than usual.
- You may be more emotional, more anxious, more tearful or angry but not really able to understand why.
- You may struggle to see your friends as much. You may want to stay at home much more and feel unable to go out, including struggling to leave your room.
- You may find that you need to work harder to focus on one thing at a time, you may feel like you want to spend all your time with your special interests to help you manage, or you may lose interest in everything you once enjoyed as you feel too depressed and tired.
It is important to note that burnout may look similar to depression, but is different (and can occur at the same time).