Mar 01, 2013 0 Share

Autism Burnout


Illustration of male TV newscaster in front of screen saying "News."
iStockphoto

Last week while I was scrolling through Facebook I noticed an opportunity to audition to be the host of “World News” for The Autism Channel, an up-and-coming organization to spread autism awareness. Producers were looking for someone on the autism spectrum to do a five to eight-minute news segment Sunday through Thursday. After sending an email to the producers for more information, I was set. Based on my background in Communication, I thought I had to give this a try. 

A few days later I took out my camcorder, sat in my room, cleared enough space to make it look decently presentable and pressed the record button. Eight takes later and with 10 solid minutes of footage, I was ready to blow away everyone with what I had done. I uploaded the footage to my laptop and forwarded my submission off to the producers. 

It was only a few minutes after I had clicked the “Send” button that I started to think about the time I just spent on this. The project in total probably only took me an hour to do, but it got me thinking about how many more hours I would spend a week doing this if I got the job. Don’t get me wrong. This is an AMAZING opportunity but, like many people, I’m always scared of burning myself out. This would add another hat to the abundance of autism hats I’ve committed to wear already. 

Bottom line: Being an autism advocate sometimes is a lot of hard work. Some parents who reach out to me think there’s a lot of glamour with awards and recognition, but that’s only 1 percent of the story. The other 99 percent of the work   comes from the projects I’m doing behind the scenes. The consulting for parents, writing my blog, finishing my book, getting my non-profit status, working on awareness videos … the potential for burnout is definitely possible. 

I’ve known the solution all along and now I’m hoping to take my own advice. The best way to avoid a possible burnout is to prioritize! For us adults with autism transition can be hell at times. Because of this it’s important we are able to establish a core of responsibilities and passions that can give us comfort. 

It doesn’t stop there though. Whether or not I become the next host of The Autism Channel’s “World News” segment, I’m beyond pleased I gave it a shot. When I was younger I would tend to shy away from things like this but branching out I see will be doing me a world of good in the long term. Trying new things and taking personal risks is something that I know many with autism have difficulty with, so as a community this may be a good challenge for the future. There is value to exploring possibilities rather than saying “no” right on the spot. 

Many children on the autism spectrum will reach adulthood within the next decade. Discovering what interests they want to pursue in life means trying new things. But it’s also easy to get burned out. So it’s important to learn to balance interests. The world has a great deal of variety and by establishing our core focuses, not trying too overdo it in some areas and exploring possibilities we can all do wonderful things for ourselves. 

Here’s hoping for the best with The Autism Channel World News and for your opportunities as well.