When it comes to OT for autism, we believe it’s crucial that the occupational therapists at Ability Action Australia keep up to date with research in all areas of disability. Not only does this help us to understand the lived experiences of NDIS participants, but is also vital in ensuring our services remain current best practice and responsive to the individual needs of each participant we support.
A recently published paper caught our attention. “Having All of Your Internal Resources Exhausted Beyond Measure and Being Left with No Clean-Up Crew”: Defining Autistic Burnout, explores the concept of Autistic burnout. While this is an emerging concept for allied health professionals, it is a reality for people living with Autism.
And as such, it’s important that our allied health professionals understand how to accommodate for it when providing OT for autism.
What is Autistic burnout? The study defines it as:
- A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic life stress and a mismatch of expectations and abilities without adequate supports. It is characterized by pervasive, long-term (typically 3+ months) exhaustion, loss of function, and reduced tolerance to stimulus.
How does it impact people with Autism?
- Participants described negative impacts on their lives, including health, capacity for independent living, and quality of life, including suicidal behavior. They also discussed a lack of empathy from neurotypical people.
And what can help?
- People had ideas for recovering from autistic burnout including acceptance and social support, time off/reduced expectations, and doing things in an autistic way/unmasking.
We are sharing this paper with our team of occupational therapists, exercise physiologists and other allied health specialists so that we can better understand and work with our clients, enabling them to live the life they choose.
Autism in Adulthood. Jun 2020.