During the life of an autistic person, there may be times when they seem to lose skills or show more obvious signs of autism. For example, a toddler who had a twelve-word vocabulary may stop talking completely. A social teenager may find it difficult to make proper eye contact or return to the conversation, even though he or she has learned these skills as a child.
This phenomenon is called autistic exhaustion (or autistic regression, depending on the source). Autistic burning can be very unpleasant for the autistic person and his family, especially if they do not know what is going on. However, it is important to note that autistic burnout is not necessarily a list of permanent regression or loss of skills. Recovery is possible.
What is autistic burn?
Autistic exhaustion can occur at any age, but it usually occurs in important life-changing places, such as a child, adolescence, or young adulthood. Any period during which a person experiences many changes or stress can cause a burning episode.
Exhausted young children often lose language skills. Some kids may forget a bit of their vocabulary, but they still keep a few words. Others may stop making the sound completely and resort to physical gestures to communicate. Autistic children may also abandon early social behaviors, such as responding to their name or examining carers' faces.
Older people with autism are able to share their burnout experiences in a way that infants cannot. Adults have reported symptoms such as:
- Increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as fluorescent or clothing lights. The person may need to know more often to compensate.
- Emotional and physical exhaustion. This can prevent people from self-handling such as meal preparation.
- Difficulty in decision making, switching between tasks and other executive capabilities.
- Speech issues: these can range from forgetting that we can't talk at all.
- Reduced social skills. As a person's cognitive resources are stretched, they may exhibit more stereotypical autistic body language or speech.
- General memory issues.
There are no diagnostic criteria for how many skills need to be lost to qualify as autistic exhaustion. The severity and duration of symptoms can vary greatly between individuals. A person may have different levels of burning in different parts of life.
Why is autistic burning happening?
Like other types of crashes, autistic exhaustion occurs when the challenges of life go beyond a person's resources. Perhaps a person may have a stressful transition to life or they may have been pushing themselves too hard for too long. Regardless, the coping mechanisms they used are not enough. Some skills and abilities temporarily shut down as the brain recovers. The brain may take some time to remember these skills as the individual adjusts to their new situation.
Research on autism depletion is still a relatively new field, so science has not found a clear answer as to why autistic brains respond in this way. One theory is that autistic people tend to have high levels of neuroplasticity. In other words, autistic brains may find it very easy to create new connections between nerve cells. Neuroplasticity can contribute to some of the outstanding problem-solving abilities of autistic people. However, the brain can sometimes redirect its resources away from certain skills as it develops new solutions to problems by temporarily taking these skills offline.
It is important to note that autistic burnout is not conscious behavior. An autistic person does not ignore social rules or neglect work simply because he or she is tired. They cannot get their way back to their old level of functioning. In fact, autistic exhaustion is often caused by people who work too hard to appear "normal".
Although the public understanding of autism has improved in recent decades, the autistic community is still facing a major stigma. Many of the modern media continue to portray autistic people as "emotionless", "self-absorbed" and other stereotypes. In addition, autistic children are at greater risk of being beaten or murdered by their parents. However, when these crimes come to light, news agencies can portray the killings as "carers forced into a hopeless situation" and their victims as "loads" (assuming the victims are not discussed at all).
Many autistic people are taught from an early age that they have to "mask" their autism in order to be accepted in society.Many autistic people are taught from an early age that they have to "mask" their autism in order to be accepted in society. For example, parents can insist that a child must embrace his relatives to show love, even if the pressure from the hugs is painful for them. If the child resists, he may be accused of being 'stubborn' or 'selfish'. Parents and relatives may refuse to try alternative greetings, such as the high five. The child then learns that their own needs are less important than the social preferences of others.
The mask often receives an exceptional amount of cognitive and emotional energy. Some autistic people consciously monitor body language and tone of voice as they speak. Others become derogatory about points that have accidentally upset someone. For some autistic people, even when they are in a bright, loud or full place, it can drain.
Some people become so good at hiding that their diagnosis of autism is canceled and they lose the necessary support. Others are not diagnosed at all and do not learn about their autism until they do. As people age, their endurance can fade, reducing their ability to mask for a long time and making exhaustion more likely.
Myth of Sudden Autistic Reflux
Autistic burning is often called autistic reflux, especially when referring to infants and toddlers. It is estimated that 30% of autistic toddler will have a recurrence, probably because their brain is developing so fast and therefore under too much strain. Some people have mistakenly accused the vaccines of causing toddlers in young children. However, reflux often begins in the first year of life before children are given vaccines.
Many studies show that children often show signs of autistic impairment well before their parents notice. For example, an infant may show signs of social regression, such as lack of eye contact. Parents may not notice these signs because they are intermittent or subtle. Often parents do not realize that there is a cause for concern until the child has language difficulties. Symptoms of burnout may appear to parents suddenly, but are actually part of a gradual development.
Toddlers with autistic exhaustion are more likely to develop co-occurring mental disabilities. However, people who are depleted in early childhood can also grow up to have moderate or excellent miscarriages. Just because a child has a developmental disorder does not mean that they have lost these skills forever.
Retrieved from Autistic Burnout
There is limited research on recovery from autistic exhaustion. The abilities of a person with autism will often come back, but some abilities may take longer to recover than others. Some skills may not return to the level they were before.
A person's prognosis depends on many factors. For example, a teenager experiencing exhaustion due to transient anxiety may have shorter, milder symptoms than a middle-aged man who has had to suffer for over 30 years. People who push themselves to the point of being abused year after year are more likely to have a more severe loss of skills than those who have a single episode and receive immediate support.
If you are a carer for an autistic child, it is highly recommended that you visit a pediatric psychologist. Early treatment interventions can improve a child's long-term ability to communicate and cope with stress. A mental health professional can also help you create a home environment that fits your child's aesthetic needs. You may also want to see a family therapist to discuss any concerns you may have about the future.
If you are an adult with autistic exhaustion, you can benefit from individual therapy. A therapist can help you support your needs with colleagues, friends, and family members. A therapist can also teach you meditation and other stress management skills. If you have clinical anxiety or depression (many people with autism do), treatment can cure these diagnoses.
While recovering from autistic exhaustion, it is important to be patient with yourself. It can be frustrating to lose access to skills, but remember this is not your fault. During this time, it can help you plan breaks throughout the day to relax. If you are particularly interested or know that it reassures you, do not hesitate to use whatever you need. Don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help as you recover.
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