Well kinda, it’s not quite that simple!
I’m probably on a quarter of a tank whereas before I was past empty (yep that is possible). So it only felt right to do a post about burnout recovery.
The simple answer is there is no quick fix unfortunately, It’s just a very real part of any autistic persons life, managing spoons, managing our environment, managing our workload, trying to be as self-aware as possible.
I consider myself extremely privileged to be part of a wonderful community of autistic people that have given me access to a boatload of self-awareness when it comes to these things, that coupled with years of experience of… well… being me and having some amazing autistic friends who look out for me means I have a pretty decent handle on managing my own mental health and burnout… although it’s still BLOODY HARD AND UNAVOIDABLE!
I’m often asked what can be done to support C&YP in burnout so I thought I’d drop a bit of insight and a few tips….
1. IT MIGHT TAKE A WHILE.
If your child is experiencing burnout, especially for the first time chances are it’s taken YEARS for them to be pushed past the point of coping…. We need to accept that it will probably take a good long while to recover and that’s ok.
2. PUSH PAUSE!
Once you realise what's happening it’s time to push pause. If at all possible drop any and all expectations…. School, getting dressed, eating at certain times, visiting family or events/days out etc…. if it’s not life or death (or seriously detrimental to health and well being) LET IT GO.
3. PRIORITISE MENTAL HEALTH
We are constantly bombarded with the message that if our kids don’t follow the prescribed path that they will “fail at life” or “never be prepared for the real world”…. What even is the real world? And how exactly do you fail at life? Surely happiness and health is success? If that’s the case we must absolutely prioritise mental health and well-being! We can do education at any age… we are not all the same.
4. GO ON A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY TOGETHER
Burnout can be extremely anxiety-inducing, especially if you’re a child and you haven’t got a clue what is going on or why all of a sudden you can’t do the things that you used to be able to, or have no idea if or when things might return to some semblance of normal. Education and knowledge are key here. Parents, please learn as much as you can from the autistic community and if your child is able to, learn it together. Connection building through shared interests is a big thing for autistic people, it will not only help you and us understand what is happening and why but it will make us feel closer to you.
5. SENSORY IS SO IMPORTANT
Once we understand our senses we can use this to build boundaries of what we are and aren’t able to do and how long for. If we don’t know we are noise sensitive (entirely possible because we have always been us, we assume everyone's the same) then how can we be expected to manage it? Try the stim toys, the noise-cancelling headphones, the weighted blankets etc etc etc. Not only does it help us regulate but it can also be spoon replenishing and stimming give us a lot of joy!
6. LEARN YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS
We all know about the fine threats for non-attendance and the EWO horror stories?
Learn that law, think about an EHCP, get the referrals, gather the evidence…. You will need to form a protective barrier between your child and the outside world that is hell-bent on trying to turn us into a neurotypical which is impossible and extremely damaging. Masking literally kills autistic people
Hope that helps?
Jodie Smitten, Children's Well-being Practitioner & Autism Specialist
Aucademy - Education for everyone on Autistic experience
The Autistic Advocate
If you are concerned or have any questions about autistic burnout please either DM my page or contact me at TanyaAdkin.co.uk