How to Deal with Masking Exhaustion and Autism Burnout

Most people with autism use some form of masking to get through the day. This process helps them interact with other people, but it can be incredibly exhausting at times. If you’re experiencing autism burnout or you cannot figure out why you’re so tired, this guide may give you a better understanding of what’s going on.

What Is Masking?

Masking is the process of minimizing autism symptoms to “blend in” with neurotypical people. The person puts on an invisible mask to make day-to-day interactions more manageable. Rather than asking the world to adapt to their needs, the person does their best to adapt to the world.

Masking is necessary in some cases, similar to putting on a customer service voice while you’re at work. That may not be what you sound like, but it’s the adjustment you need to make to keep the customer comfortable. Autistic people may adjust their tone, behavior, or phrasings to make other people feel more comfortable around them.

Why Autism Masking Makes You Tired

When you mask your autism, ADHD, or any other form of neurodivergence, your brain has to work extra hard. It already spends the day making sure you walk, blink, breathe, respond to questions, and conquer basic tasks. This adds a new layer of responsibility that can quickly wear you out.

Autism fatigue stacks on top of other stressors you may experience, such as work burnout or relationship struggles. Your mind only has so much energy to give. If you feel exhausted the second you’re alone, you’ve likely been masking more than you realize. Your mind is begging your body for a break.

How to Deal with Autism Burnout

There are a few tricks you can use to prevent autism burnout and reduce the effects of autism fatigue.

The first and most obvious option is to minimize your masking. You may be doing it subconsciously at this point, or you may feel you need to mask to survive. Look for ways to alleviate some of that pressure, perhaps with a new support system at work, in school, or at home. Would your employer let you come in an hour before everyone or stay late to work in peace? Could you take school exams in a proctored setting without distractions? Those opportunities may make you feel safe enough to take your mask down.

Another option is to pursue support from an executive functions coach or autism therapist. This is a specialist who can help you cope with autism symptoms and find personalized solutions for your struggles. You may be using masking as a safety net because you do not have other tools to turn to. An autism specialist can give you those tools in a confidential, judgment-free environment.

Take advantage of mental health days, and try not to overschedule yourself. Be aware of your mental and emotional limitations. Make a note of the things that calm you down, and turn to those coping strategies when you feel burnt out.

Don’t underestimate the power of good sleep! As you sleep, your brain sorts through your thoughts and emotions. Maintaining a good sleep routine could reduce your masking exhaustion and relieve autism fatigue.

If you’d like personalized tips for managing autism, CNLD Testing & Therapy has specialists available to assist you. Contact us at (734) 994-9466 to schedule a consultation.