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Book review - Autistic Burnout, Children /Young People in Education by Viv Dawes

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

I am excited to announce that Viv Dawes (autistic advocate, writer, and trainer, has just published her new book, Autistic Burnout, Children /Young People in Education, a book aimed at parents of autistic (or other neurodivergent) children. I have revised my preface here as a short review so everyone gets a chance to find out a bit more about this valuable book.

Viv Dawes has brought a lifetime of personal and professional experience into authoring this

valuable book, “Autistic Burnout, Children /Young People in Education, a book aimed at parents of autistic (or other neurodivergent) children.” Viv and I met through our shared interest in this subject, and we have an equally strong passion for our advocacy work which aims to develop a better understanding of autism, neurodivergence, and mental health in education. We have collaborated on several projects and created webinars and training for families and professionals. Through our individual and joint work, we aim to develop knowledge and understanding of how to support people through autistic burnout and provide guidance and ideas for those individuals experiencing burnout themselves. Viv is currently working on various projects within the neurodivergent community, NHS, and her local education authority. She has published other work on this subject, including her book, ‘Understanding Autistic Burnout, a Workbook with Support Sheets.’ Viv is also currently collaborating with the National Police Autism Association to implement training in this area and has also published a FREE download ‘Autistic Meltdowns, Burnout and First Responders’.

As a teacher and a parent to two neurodivergent children, I understand how autistic burnout can seriously impact a child’s education and mental health and how the ripples can affect the whole family. Autistic burnout occurs when the demands of the environment and daily life exceed a person’s capacity to manage. It can lead to difficulties with school attendance and engagement with education, a loss of interest in once enjoyable activities, sensory overwhelm, and difficulty with communication and social interaction. Autistic burnout can lead to severe mental health difficulties, and it is important you seek professional advice and support. Ideally, we want young people to avoid experiencing autistic burnout. For this to happen we need an education system that promotes a neurodiversity-affirming culture. We need to move away from pathologizing autism and seeing it as a disorder. Flipping the narrative and adopting a neurodiversity-affirming perspective can help support people to understand that autism is a difference in the way people think, respond, and interact with the world. Unique strengths should be celebrated, and differences accepted and embraced. Affirming a young person’s autistic identity anrecognizingng their strengths can help support good mental health and prevent burnout or lessen the severity and impact it may have. Burnout happens when young people’s needs have not been met over a repeated and/or extended period. This often occurs because neither the young person, parents, nor professionals understand how a deep knowledge of autistic identity is crucial to preventing burnout. Unless you understand an autistic person’s sensory system, the way they socialize and communicate, interact, and respond to the world as their true self, then you can’t work together to find the best ways to manage and prevent burnout. You could end up in cycles of burnout which could lead to a severe mental health crisis.

If a child or young person is going through autistic burnout, they will need your support. They will need you to have a deep understanding of their autistic identity, so you know how best to support them. Essentially you will need to increase sensory regulation time and decrease demands (family and school). Children, young people, and adults can heal from autistic burnout, but it takes time and significant changes may need to be made. You will need to work together and find what works for your young person in their home or school environments and have a flexible compassionate, low-demand approach. This book is a valuable and accessible guide to help you understand some of the frequent signs of autistic burnout. It provides many useful, practical ideas that may help you to provide support for a young person experiencing burnout both at home and in an educational setting. The quality of the relationship and connections you build with your child or young person are important. Young people need adults that offer them space to be themselves. Young people need adults that listen to them and validate their experiences and understand them. Providing space and time in the right environment for young people to rest and regulate will enable them to recover and start their healing journey. It can be hard as a parent/carer supporting a young person through autistic burnout, so it is important to also look after yourself too and seek professional support if needed. There are some great signposting resources at the end of this book. Supporting young people through autistic burnout requires a holistic approach that prioritizes a deep understanding of autistic identity, care, and compassion. You will need a flexible approach to meet the fluid, changing needs of autistic young people experiencing burnout to support their mental health. It will take time to heal from burnout, but this book will help guide you along that journey and provides a wonderful resource for families and professionals to support a young person through autistic burnout.

My Autistic Burnout: A Family Guide is available here: Shop | Autisticrealms


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