I just took a webinar training on recovering from autistic burnout and it was AWESOME! There was only one thing missing from the training; what it’s like to experience autistic burnout while parenting little (or big) kids. Parenting is a game changer and for autistic folx, this is especially true. Already we are at risk for meltdowns, shutdowns and burnout and having kids just ups the ante.
Recovering from autistic burnout as a parent is similar to a non-parent except for the obvious fact that parents are responsible for tiny dependent humans 24/7 and many autistic parents lack support and resources to support them when they are experiencing burnout. Being a parent makes it tricky to just “rest” when little humans are needing you to feed them, clothe them, play with them, love them… most of us can’t actually take a break.
That is why we need to learn ways of recovering from burnout within the context of being 24/7 caregivers to littles. This might mean that we offer more screen time while we are experiencing burnout. It may mean that we rely more on our community and family, if available. It also may mean that we need to make tough decisions about how we can cope and how our choices affect those around us.
Recovering from burnout is different for every autistic person. The number 1 thing most burnt out autistics need is some form of rest. Our system has been overloaded and burnt out and we need to recuperate. For me, this has looked like unlimited iPad time for my kids so that I can physically lay down. It means playing with my kids from a supine position. It means saying no to more playdates and park days. Although I know those things are important for my children’s development, I know that having a recovered parent is more important and that being burnt out is temporary.
When you are burnt out, it is important to find what nourishes you mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. What energizes you and fills your cup? Even if you aren’t burnt out, it is important to identify the ways that help you recover. Is it listening to music or walking in nature? This requires some self-inquiry and exploration. I believe it would be hard to be autistic in this world without getting burnt out at some point. It's important to be gentle with yourself and seek help/support when needed.