Skip to main content
autistic burnout

Mental health wellbeing
Monday 18 March 2024

What autistic burnout means to me

The term autistic burnout can mean different things to different people. In general, the term autistic burnout means fatigue and missing out on things because of this. You could have a loss of skills and interests. Autistic burnout may happen because of sensory overload such as being in a busy environment or there may be lots going on in your life that could be overwhelming. Your brain might feel fuzzy and overloaded, and you may not be able to think clearly. You may also not be able to hide any masking you were previously.

For myself, autistic burnout is becoming more irritable and avoiding things I would have previously done. I tend to say no to lots of things when previously I would have said yes. I use up a lot of my spoons more quickly. This is a tool autistic people can use to measure the mental and physical energy someone has for activities e.g. showering could take up two spoons. The number of spoons you should use in a day depends on the individual.  

I also become more depressed and avoid talking to people. I ruminate more and I find it harder to be verbal and often stutter – some people can become non-verbal. Busy environments can be hard for me, and I find myself struggling in places such as cafes and supermarkets.


The impact autistic burnout has on me

This has an impact on me as it means a lot of opportunities. Autism advocacy is one of my biggest passions and sometimes I have to miss out. This makes me upset and annoyed with myself. I miss out on appointments like going to the doctors or the hospital. I sometimes cannot ask for help, and this can cause issues too.


Tips for reducing autistic burnout

Some tips I have for reducing autistic burnout would be to use ear defenders to help with over-stimulus. Taking regular rest breaks is a good idea and try to find a quiet comfortable place. A dark room can help me, as well as using sensory toys. I also use grounding techniques and use a diffuser in my room with essential oils. Lavender can help you relax!

Autistic burnout is a real thing, and it can vary for everyone. If you know someone who is suffering from autistic burnout help them and offer your support! Some autistic people don't know they suffer from burnout and autistic burnout can often be hard to avoid, but with the right coping mechanisms you can hopefully find a way to help you relax.


About the author

Hannah is 20 years old and autistic. She is a youth advisor for Ambitious about Autism and is also a peer mentor for autistic adults.