AUTISTIC NICK NEARLY HAS A SHUT DOWN.
This week I very nearly had an Autistic shut down. I came extremely close that it scared me. I honestly could feel that my entire body was on the verge of shutting itself down.
Unlike last time https://autisticnick.com/2021/01/11/how-autistic-nick-dealt-with-a-shut-down/. I found myself being able to see the signs.
Signs of shutdown include:
➢ Being completely silent, not being able to communicate in any way.
➢ Forgetting how to do simple tasks.
➢ Withdrawing to a quiet, dark space to get away from the cause of the shutdown and minimise stimulation.
➢ Not being able to move and thinking too much about the cause of the shutdown.
➢ Lying down on a flat surface, being completely still.
Shutdown is an involuntary physiological process caused by stress instability, an inability to regulate the body’s overwhelming response to stressors.
The nervous system is overloaded to the point of collapse, so it shuts off.
REASONS FOR A SHUTDOWN INCLUDE:
1. Extreme overload, burnout or stress can trigger a self-protective response of shutting down before it’s too late and the nervous system overloads.
2. Expression of distress.
3. To reverse effects of stress and calm down back to normal.
It’s so important to understand what factors influence the onset of shutdowns and then we can take steps to reduce the likelihood of them occurring and their severity. These steps may include organising your life in ways others may find extreme, lazy, selfish, but regardless of what others think, we have to do what works for us. This includes: -Taking time out (even from important events.)
IMPLEMENTNG SELF-SOOTHING STRATEGIES.
Creating AND maintaining low-stress environments that nurture rather than damage your neurology.
Try not to be swayed by other people’s expectations and opinions of what you need and what you ‘should be’ doing.
Remember shutdown is a real physiological situation and be compassionate toward yourself and non-judgemental.
Turn off bright lights and loud noises, find quiet spaces to re-regulate your nervous system.
Shutdowns can be short or long term, hours, or days. Longer term shutdown can lead to not being able to speak or take care of ourselves. It can take 3weeks to properly recover.
I know the reason/trigger for my near shut down. It was just how I was going to deal with it which was the issue.
I made the following plan in my head. But before I did that, I made sure that I had discarded the trigger for my shutdown, and I switched off my computer and any other electronic devices so that I would be distracted enough not to come back to it.
I had my word search book nearby as this always calms me down and aids me in focussing and concentrating on something other than the stress trigger.
I then distracted myself further by heading into my various streaming services and finding TV shows or videos to watch online in order to pass the time and not invoke my already high stress and anxiety levels.
I feel that I need to stress here that this wasn’t due to anything happening at work but rather a mentoring matter that is completely separate. Just so we are clear here.
HOW I COPED DURING AND AFTER MY NEAR SHUTDOWN
For me what worked was writing down all the events that had led up to this point and figuring out what I needed to do in order for this to have not occurred in the first place. I took a week’s break from things. I also communicated with friends and used past strategies that I know work for me. I had my word search book nearby with my favourite pen, I also continued to do daily workouts, I played solitaire and words with friends as well as listening to podcasts.
But what can you do if you witness someone Autistic having a shutdown?
HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT A PERSON WITH AUTISM DURING A SHUTDOWN?
- Give them the time to withdraw and recover.
- Consider whether you can use their special interests to help them come out of their shutdown.
- Some people with Autism may like some contact during a shutdown, like a hand on their shoulder, or a quiet word. This is entirely up to the person. Discuss with the person with Autism when they are not stressed how they would like to be supported.
AFTER THE INCIDENT
Find out what caused it (they might mention the final trigger to start with, so you may have to go back further with them), and what they would like you to do if this happens in the future. If they showed behaviours which may have caused them or others injury, try and help them find safer ways of relieving the stress.
Make detailed records of the situations before, during and after the incident and discuss these situations with others who know the person well. Always ensure that the person with Autism is central to any discussions on their health and wellbeing.
I have to say that by taking this one-week break did me the world of good. I am refreshed. I am not so overwhelmed with stress where I felt that my body was going into shutdown mode. I am proud of myself for noticing the signs and then acting accordingly to them.
This YouTube video will also explain it to:
To subscribe to Amythest Schaber’s YouTube channel click on the link below https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9Bk0GbW8xgvTgQlheNG5u
CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION
How do you deal with having an Autistic shutdown?
Let me know about your experiences in the comments section below.
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.