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JosetteJoy
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14 Dec 2023, 2:26 pm

Could someone please explain what autistic burnouts and shutdowns are? I don't know if I've ever had them, or if I have, I didn't know what it was.



Chiliwailer
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14 Dec 2023, 2:54 pm

This is very good - https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10. ... .2019.0079

Remember when reading it, burnout symptoms can vary person to person.



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14 Dec 2023, 2:58 pm

This is also good, with less academic text https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-gu ... 20stimulus.



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14 Dec 2023, 3:10 pm

Autistic burnout could be better called autistic overload.

A quote from the UK autistic web page describes autistic burnout as: ‘‘Autistic burnout is a state of physical and mental fatigue, heightened stress, and diminished capacity to manage life skills, sensory input, and/or social interactions, which comes from years of being severely overtaxed by the strain of trying to live up to demands that are out of sync with our needs.’’
I experienced burnout from married life, kids, career, continuing education, attempting to be social... basically trying to lead a normal life. I was having memory issues and stressing out on the slightest thing, amongst other issues. My burnout was in part what led me to discover that I am autistic.

For me, shutdowns are from immediate over stimuli. Just think the exact opposite of an autistic rage. Instead of blowing up, I curl into a little ball and try to ignore all stimuli coming at me. I've only had this happen a couple of times.

This is what burnout and shutdowns are for me. Others will have different experiences and can provide different insight.


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14 Dec 2023, 4:05 pm

Also, to add about shutdown…It can be as described in the post above, or as a symptom of burnout whereby functions, skills and abilities literally decrease or stop entirely for a period, or also as a more extreme and prolonged reaction to a stressful event or situation, or build up of them, whereby the person can have various difficulties such as (but not exhaustive list) stopping communication, movement, initiating, or use of skills and abilities. This is also known as autistic catatonia, breakdown and shutdown (Wing & Shah)



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14 Dec 2023, 5:26 pm

JosetteJoy wrote:
Could someone please explain what autistic burnouts and shutdowns are? I don't know if I've ever had them, or if I have, I didn't know what it was.


I get shutdowns. Had them from the age of around six, going on seven onwards. Prior to that I had uncontrolled temper tantrums when I could not cope. They dissapeared and the shutdowns began.

I joined this site before I knew what they were called as I had spent about three quarters of my life going back and fore to doctors trying to find out what they were and what was causing them because I had quit jobs several times because of an accumilation of them due to burnout. Burnout is like a mild form of mental breakdown, though I found they got worse and worse and the time to recover was in years rather than in months like they were whenI was younger. None of this has en officially diagnosed. I found them out by members of this site giving links and my own research.

Shutdowns come in medium and severe forms for me. Medium when I am aware that my body is partially shutting down so I withdraw a little if I canad don't get directly involved with whatever it is that has trigered them, such as a social event where the busyiness of the event is too much for me.
Certain smells like strong perfumes and soaps, or the smell of bleach or hospital smells cause me partial or full out shutdowns if I can't leave the enviroment in time. (Often if a partial shutdown happens, I can already be in trouble in certain settings as my whole body goes weak so I find it hard to walk etc..).

A full shutdown and I am on the floor unable to move and my vision has gone, and I have loud tinitus which goes from a medium pitch to a low pitch as my vision goes. It feels similar to fainting but it is not. I ad this confirmed at an A&E when in hospital, as I had only gone in for yet another blood test to try to discover what the shutdowns were! I had shutdown after shutdown due to the enviroment ad the stress of my blood being taken and every time I beganto recover te nurse would repeat the "What is your name? What is your date of birth? How old are you? Where do you live? Wat year is it?" proceedure that they are taught to help people out of a faint ( Check they are metally "With it") and each time I tried to make my brain respond before it was ready I had a repeat shutdown. This went on with hours of me trying to say "Stop".....(Shutdown)...." Asking".....(Shutdown).... "Me".....(Shutdown)....." Questions"..... (Shutdown)....which I repeated this for around three hours as I was only able to say a single word at a time as by forcinga word out would take me into another shutdown... And it took me repeating this message a word at a time three times before shefinally got the message so I could finally try and let my brain recover. I was soo exhausted (One shutdown is exhausting enough... More than one leaves me so exhausted and physically shaky (They rob my body of energy so I will need quick energy giving sugary foods or drinks followed by energy giving foods to help recover... It will be an hour or two before I am properly physically right but even then I will be exhausted and will need to relax for the rest of the day. In the past we thought it could be diabetic but had my liver ad other things tested via blood tests so many times over so many years! Not diabetic at all! andone doctors listed me down as faking that I had issues so for a good decade I found it almost impossible to be seen or getany medical help for anything, where I eventually changed doctors to ones that actually listened and tried to work with me to find out what it was. (They didn't find it. Was WP memers that found it, but at least they listened as the previous doctors lost all my medical records, so they had nothing to go by).


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14 Dec 2023, 5:40 pm

Burnout - Your nervous system gets fried from repeat exposure to stressors like social, sensory, anxiety, etc. It accumulates for a long time and then one day you're just "done" and can't function anymore. Burnouts can last a very long time because they are physiological not just mental. I've been in one for about a decade.

Shutdown - Your body needs to avoid stress from social / sensory overwhelm so you remove yourself mentally / physically or even emotionally from the problem until your nervous system resets. Can be short-term like an hour or two, or longer like a week or more.

Think of burnout being a permanent shutdown.

You can still have serial shutdowns within the context of an extended burnout.


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14 Dec 2023, 6:23 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Burnout - Your nervous system gets fried from repeat exposure to stressors like social, sensory, anxiety, etc. It accumulates for a long time and then one day you're just "done" and can't function anymore. Burnouts can last a very long time because they are physiological not just mental. I've been in one for about a decade.

Shutdown - Your body needs to avoid stress from social / sensory overwhelm so you remove yourself mentally / physically or even emotionally from the problem until your nervous system resets. Can be short-term like an hour or two, or longer like a week or more.

Think of burnout being a permanent shutdown.

You can still have serial shutdowns within the context of an extended burnout.



There are many different types of shutdown. Some people experience them in different ways as well. For me, a full shutdown may not in itself last long but the recovery takes a long time. I don't have a clue how long they last, but I do know that though I can't hear (Loud internal tinitus means I can't hear it I wanted to) and my eyesight has gone and I can't move my body so am effectively paralyzed (If I attempt to move my body before I am fully in the deep end of a shutdown, I immediately to deep into a shutdown which takes longer to recover from), so I can't see, hear or speak or move BUT it someone walks last I can feel the ground move and the air move, and it they step on my hand or fingers thespian is amplified but I can't outwardly respond to it. The senses of feel and touch are very much amplified even though I have lost everything else!
It is cruel because I once had a full on shutdown with many repeat shutdown but cause my brother with all his children were up and he let them jump up and down on me and others stood on my hands etc as they walked past. My nieces and nephews used me as a play thing while I was totally unable to respond. The pain was magnified and every time I started pulling out of a shutdown the business and someone jumping on me forced me into another. I was totally helpless to do anything about it. (Brothers kids don't do "No" or "Don't" it someone tells them not to unless shouted at. Shouting puts me into more shutdowns as it I recover from one I am fragile to triggers that would not normally trigger me).

For me shutdowns may be mental but I notice them physically because one does not think mental it one starts losing one's physical abilities as things shut down.
I do go quiet and withdraw but to me that is because I am saving myself from shutdowns... Is me saying "Too much... Withdraw!" Shutdowns are beyond that. (Can also go into "Stare" more where I stare forward but don't focus on anything).
To others, they shut themselves off.


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16 Dec 2023, 1:22 am

FallingDownMan wrote:
Autistic burnout could be better called autistic overload.

A quote from the UK autistic web page describes autistic burnout as: ‘‘Autistic burnout is a state of physical and mental fatigue, heightened stress, and diminished capacity to manage life skills, sensory input, and/or social interactions, which comes from years of being severely overtaxed by the strain of trying to live up to demands that are out of sync with our needs.’’
I experienced burnout from married life, kids, career, continuing education, attempting to be social... basically trying to lead a normal life. I was having memory issues and stressing out on the slightest thing, amongst other issues. My burnout was in part what led me to discover that I am autistic.

For me, shutdowns are from immediate over stimuli. Just think the exact opposite of an autistic rage. Instead of blowing up, I curl into a little ball and try to ignore all stimuli coming at me. I've only had this happen a couple of times.

This is what burnout and shutdowns are for me. Others will have different experiences and can provide different insight.


I've been experiencing burnout lately. The loss of life skills and sensory input is what I experience.


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