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Autistic Burnout

Executive Functioning

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Warning Signs of Autistic Burnout​

A checklist of common warning signs that autistic burnout is coming soon, or that you’re in it.

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Hexagon Progress Chart

Like star charts, or habit trackers, but without all of the blank dates to haunt you when you didn’t do something, just an ever-filling chart of what you did do.

Color in a hexagon each time you make progress toward your personal goals. Includes a full page and a half page chart.

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Stress and Restoration

Grey cover, with a white circle center. In the middle of the page, there is drawing of a game of tug-o-war between two people, with a person at the center of the rope. The words "5 of the Most Overlooked (and Common) Stressors" are at the top, with "For Autistics, Highly Sensitive People, and Anyone Who Is Sensitive To Stress" underneath it. At the bottom, it writes "Heather Cook" and "Autism Chrysalis LLC".

5 of the Most Overlooked
(and Common) Stressors

If you, or your kid, are frequently exhausted, having trouble functioning, melting down or shutting down, have low energy, or are feeling tired or sick, get headaches, or avoid daily tasks, and you haven’t been able to explain why, check out these common (and commonly overlooked) sources of stress in everyday modern life.

5 Domains of Stress sheet. At the top it writes "When you're looking for stressors, there are essentially five categories, or domains, you can lump them into. Here are some common examples for autistic individuals." In the middle there's 5 different categories, the first one is Biological and in it there is "Noises, Crowds, Over- or under-stimulation, Physical movement, or lack of it, Medical conditions, Lack of restorative sleep, etc." Under emotions it writes "Strong emotions take energy to deal with, whether they are generally seen as positive, such as excitement or joy, or negative, such as anger, fear, loneliness, embarrassment, etc." Under social, it writes "Difficulty picking up on social cues, Difficulty understanding the effect of one's behaviour on others, Being bullied, Being left out of a group, Being the focus of other's attention, etc." Under Pro-social, it writes "Difficulty coping with other peoples' stress, Difficulty reading others' cues of distress, Wanting to help and not knowing what to do, Feelings of guilt or unfairness, The expectations of others, etc." Under Cognitive, it writes "Difficulty processing certain kinds of information, Boredom, Lacking of intellectual, stimulation, Intellectual tasks that are too challenging, The font or size of print, Time pressures, etc." There's a few notes at the bottom of the page, they are as follows "When so much of life is governed by sensory overwhelm, it's tempting to look only for biological stressors. But stressors cause and build on each other, so it's important to look for these other ones as well.", "Look for hidden stressors. Those things that we may not think of as using energy, but they do.", "Stressors tend to build on each other, so there's rarely just one thing going on. When sensory stuff gets in the way (biological), learning becomes more difficult (cognition), which could lead to embarrassment (emotion), and social blunders or teasing from other kids (social), and social blunders or teasing from other kids (social), and reacting in ways that you regret (prosocial).", "A huge source of stress is eye contact. Requiring eye contact is a quick way to get protector brain to take over. The sensory and information overwhelm of the face and eyes is too much and we look away to reduce stimulation so we can think. Most of the time, we can either look at you or we can answer. Both are not possible."

5 Domains of Stress

When so much of life is governed by sensory overwhelm, it’s tempting to look only for biological stressors.

But stressors cause and build on each other, so it’s important to look for these other ones as well.

Here’s five areas, or domains, in which we all experience stress, and several examples to help you generate ideas.

Page titled The Five Steps of Self-Reg. Listing paragraphs under it with steps.

The 5 Steps of Self-Reg:
A Quick Sheet

A quick reminder of the The 5 Steps of Self-Reg, with a view to autistic kids and adults.

Post it on the fridge, by your desk, or wherever you could use a gentle reminder.

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PDF of Regulating Activity Ideas worksheet. At the top, it writes "What helps you feel good? Alive? Calm? Energized? Better? What gives you energy? What about your kids? Everything in life is better when you (and your kids) have had restorative sleep. Here's a book full of practical suggestions: Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson". The main page says "Here are options used by autistic kids and adults I know: restorative sleep, writing, drawing, hiking, puzzles, games, baths, time in nature, meditation, rock climbing, swimming, art classes, reading, painting, prayer, coloring, sports, yoga, climbing trees, martial arts, cooking, baking, knitting, crochet, gardening, taking a nap, dancing, building, creating, surfing, inventing things, keeping a journal, going for a run, choral singing, listening to music, organizing something, solving riddles, playing outdoors, forest bathing, time with animals, time with friends, untangling a mess of yarn, daily movement or exercise, playing a musical instrument, travel (local or long distance), helping others, visiting museums or cultural attractions, religious or spiritual observances, building or inventing things, learning crafts and skills, unstructured playtime." To the side, it writes "Self-care ideas specifically for busy parents (all are suggestions from other parents): reframe behavior, adjust expectations, lean on your support system, prioritize spending time with your kids over cleaning the house, play and laugh with your kids, be creative with your kids, special bedtime routines, be kind/gentle with yourself, prioritize sleep, feel grateful for the "small" things, practice mindfulness, take deep breaths while your kid melts down, forgive yourself, acknowledge what you're already doing for yourself, let the good things sink in. What is self-care for you as a parent?" Lastly, at the bottom it writes "ideas especially for sensory needs: weighted blankets and vest, downtime and rest, shaking it out, fidget toys, wiggle cushions, balance boards, trampolines, swings or hammocks, the Safe and Sound Protocol, the Wilbarger Protocol of bushing and compression."

Regulating Activity Ideas

The easiest time to do something that helps you or your kid regulate, is before you become dysregulated.

Here are more than 50 ideas (57, but who’s counting?) of activities for autistics, and parents, to feel good and regulated so you have the energy to cope when things happen that are more challenging to deal with.

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Free Workshops

Blue solid foreground with text "Autistic Energy Management."

Autistic Energy Management

How do you make positive changes in your life when you have no energy left? In this workshop recording, I share my philosophy of the situation and lots of practical tips.

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