Autistic burnout is an experience that autistic people can go through throughout their lives and it can be devastating. It affects every aspect of the individual’s psychological, physical and emotional condition and can lead to an extreme state of crisis. Autistic burnout is not the same as neurotypical burnout, which is usually caused by working or studying too hard.
Whilst in a state of burnout, an autistic person may find it very hard to express and describe what they are experiencing or feeling and may not have the words to explain their symptoms.
If an autistic person has other diagnoses, co-existing conditions (or misdiagnosed mental health condition/personality disorder), then it can mean autistic burnout is missed by professionals. This can lead to the wrong support, therapy or advice being given to the individual, or no support in many cases.
Diagnosed (or undiagnosed) autistic people, need the right advice and information regarding autistic burnout. Prevention of burnout, wherever possible is ultimately the best treatment. But this is not always possible and in order to prevent crisis, autistic people need help to deal with and recover from burnout.
Once in a state of extreme burnout and crisis, if they are unable to rest, recover and access an appropriate safe place, an autistic person is at higher risk of suicide. There may also be offending behaviour, in some cases leading to custodial prison sentences. With changes to the mental health bill regarding autistic people and admission to inpatient settings, the possibility that more autistic people in crisis will end up in prison is a significant concern.
To find out more about autistic burnout: psychcentral.com/autism/autistic-burnout
Defining Autistic Burnout’ – Dr Dora M. Raymaker PhD
‘An autistic burnout’ - Kieran Rose- The autistic advocate
Change.org petition to recognise autistic burnout
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Ross Fraser and Jeni Curtis
Words – Community comment by Viv Dawes
Graphic Design App – Canva