As autistic individuals, we know that autistic burnout affects us deeply. It impacts our ability to work, take care of ourselves, take care of others, and even complete day to day tasks. The symptoms are many including exhaustion, mental fog, losing words or the ability to do things we once took for granted, being more irritable, and many others. What isn’t talked about so much is the effect autistic burnout has on our environment, our pets and companion animals, and others.
Certainly I don’t want to dismiss the powerful impact the insidious type of burnout known as autistic burnout has on the individual. Any effects of burnout affect the individual experiencing it first. And those have been talked about at length, though not enough, because people still think you can “snap out of it” or rest your way out of burnout (without looking at socioeconomic factors that may play a role in preventing someone from resting). However, when you look with a critical eye through your own connections, you’ll find autistic burnout also affects others, as well.
Some examples of this is that beloved companion animals may miss out on routine checkups or care. Quite often the pet or companion animal is cared for in other ways, such as adequate fed, loved, groomed, etc.. However, care that requires an outside assistance and especially making phone calls or wrangling visit times, may fall through the cracks. In this case, it helps if other people can offer aid in making phone calls or being there to handle the care, where possible. While the autistic individual often feels awful about the missed care, in general cases, the animal isn’t suffering and is still living an excellent life. It’s just the extras that are going missing.
Projects and things you mentioned doing for someone else may also fall through the cracks. They may notice that you aren’t as responsive to needs or you make promises to complete things that then are forgotten or passed over in the rush of the days. Again, this doesn’t indicate a lack of care or concern, but rather the effect autistic burnout has on the autistic individual.
Of course, we don’t want to center our concern for autistic burnout on the others it affects, whether they’re human or companion animals. We always want to center the autistic individual and ensure that they are receiving the care and support they need. Too often they aren’t, and this can cause autistic burnout to continue much longer than expected.
But it’s also good to look at the entire picture of burnout and see that its effects stretch far beyond any particular individual and into the other spaces of their lives.
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