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Autistic Burnout: The Cost of Masking and Passing (2017) (boren.blog)
221 points by depressed 49 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments

"Common life strategy for autistic people: achieve/overachieve until burning out and maybe the overachievement will result in enough social and economic capital to see you through the burnout." @theoriesofminds (Twitter)

This jumped out to me.

I definitely identify with that, so very hard.

I suffered pretty horribly as a kid. On top of the autism, my father was abusive, one of the few friends I had died at 9 years old, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer shortly after. I began to act out, and the school I was sent to helped me learn to "pass" was so horrible I ended up writing about it anonymously for Boing Boing.[1]

Later in grad school, a counselor would point out that on top of the autistic spectrum issue, I may have CPTSD from the treatment I received from the teachers in the alternative school that my acting out caused me to be sent to. It's not in the DSM, so I can't really get anything for it.

I went to college hoping for some stability - anything beyond help desk in my hometown required a degree. College made me "overqualified" for those roles but didn't quite get me to the point I could get a systems admin or software engineering role. In fact between self care and classes, my technical skills declined a bit from when I was 18 to 22.

A professor who I took a job with due to the flexible schedule saw promise in me and encourage me to go to grad school. I don't need a ton of money to be happy, so I figured maybe acquiring some prestige would eventually lead to a decent job - I never wanted to be a professor but I didn't see any other path forward.

I burned out partway through grad school... I managed to pass my quals so I could prove leaving was my choice and left with a master's. Tried working for a smaller company who I told I wanted work life balance, but ended up being laid off despite putting in as much (and sometimes more) hours there than I did in grad school.

So now, like many of the guys I went to school with all those years ago, I live with my parents. The difference being that most of those guys spent the past decade as NEETS. I'm not going to claim living on disability is a picnic, but I sometimes wonder who's smarter: the "genius" who spent a decade trying to push boulders up hills until he got crushed, or the American Hikikomori sitting in their parent's putting in their 10,000th hour of Call of Duty.

[1] https://boingboing.net/2013/01/05/pedagogyofthedepressed.htm...

> so horrible I ended up writing about it anonymously for Boing Boing.[1]

That sounds more like a communist prison than a school, I'm not surprised it would result in PTSD.

10,000 hours of CoD sounds soul crushingly boring and pointless, so I'm going with the former.

If CoD really was as boring as you described then nobody would play it. Also about your comment saying something is pointless... Everything is pointless. The least pointless activity is to work but eventually it fuels someone else's pointless activity if the work day is shorter than 16 hours. Gardening is pointless. Playing musical instruments is pointless. Reading fiction is pointless. Building a DIY rubber pad former with a hydraulic press to form sheet metal for your experimental (=non-commecial) aircraft is pointless. All of these are pointless and that's why I'm not doing them.

I wake up at 10 AM to work then go to college from 4PM to 9PM and then spend an hour learning a new language and then watch some movies or play some video games. Sometimes I don't know which of them is the most pointless...

At the end of the day we will all eventually die & at some point the heat death of the universe itself will arrive - surely rendering anything anyone ever did "pointless"...

But that doesn't matter - meaning is subjective & you make your own. If something is meaningful to you it's not pointless.

> If CoD really was as boring as you described then nobody would play it.

Yeah, but 10,000 hours of COD? That's about 5 years of playing from 9-5 every weekday. That's not enjoyment; that's an illness.

I can't even imagine the ennui of playing 10k hours of the same FPS or even the same series. "Soul crushingly boring" wouldn't even begin to describe it.

It engages a lot of primal drives: hunting, team-work, hand-eye coordination, tribal warfare, etc. I mean, we basically evolved to play team sports.

> That's not enjoyment; that's an illness.

These are not mutually exclusive.

Gardening creates food, improves your well being, improves your physical fitness, and has been shown to help with dementia. Your definition of "pointless" has no meaning and just sounds like ennui. Language learning opens up new opportunities. CoD at 10K hours is boring. You're skill level is likely to make you better than most people playing, to the point that you might be able to be good enough for esports, which would make the activity not pointless.

"Boring" and "exciting" is inherently subjective. And you've literally just been told that someone doesn't find that boring.

It's something where your progress and improvement can actually be tracked and measured, you can actually feel yourself improving by suddenly "outplaying" competition that you couldn't before.

As such it's a way to feel accomplishment and growth for people who don't have many other opportunities for feeling those things.

It's particularly appealing for people who struggle with participating in the usual venues for this, like sports clubs and other socializing that usually requires meat world interaction, which isn't a very easy thing to participate in for people with social anxiety issues.

I suspect you were meant to understand from the line of this person's story that the alternatives are almost equal. Answering is therefore not really what the author was going for (especially if it's a conclusion based on a different perspective than the author's without a very strong underpinning).

The person can rationalize playing 10,000 hours of CoD in their parent’s basement all they want. But I guess we can disagree, too, and suggest they don’t give up on life yet.

Maybe our perspective is that of someone who was in a similar place, and is now looking back on our lives with the benefit of hindsight.

I apologise for not being clearer: I was explaining first why just a single flippant response is not adequate, and also saying that if you want to post a response like that to a post like this maybe you should substantiate your argument a bit more. I can come up with a million reasons for why someone would respond that way and your rationale makes sense, but that doesn't mean that that was the rationale in play here.

It's not obvious to me that people will take a low-effort dismissal of their personal issues and turn that into a valuable learning opportunity.

Apex Legends and other games are all continuations of COD, so interpret that sentence as 10,000 hours of addictive online multiplayer gaming.

This is way too real. Attempting to milk the high functioning part of your brain just to run away and hide forever and hopefully coast on the achieved results post-burnout is a cycle I didn't realise I was even doing.

It is definitely a finite resource. When you overuse the high functioning, or social mind, you are able to tap into it less. That’s why I make it a point to avoid contact with people for at least a few days.

Heh, but isn't that almost everyone these days? And even normal people get a burnout when they have to run an internal virtual machine to conform to quickly changing society/rules they don't believe to maintain their status, and need a downtime to recover.

"internal virtual machine" is such a great way to think about it.

Today a recruiter crashed one of my mental containers when she made an API call to me telling me she had an opportunity for me and I responded with 200 "I've got a new role now that I'm happy with" then she fired a GET request for the company I am currently working. I don't implement that method on the social contract (I commented it out recently) and instead just returned a 404. She then immediately fired another GET request for the same information and my mental container just crashed. Just hung up and ended the call. That isolation is great though because I went straight back to enjoying my beer.

First, amazing post, I want to see a blog post of someone's day entirely like this.

> That isolation is great though because I went straight back to enjoying my beer.

Second, I find the isolation to be a bit leaky - rarely am I immediately back to my normal operation. Maybe I need to reimplement my VM.

Third, isolation in theory is great, but in practice requires far too many resources. I agree that the "internal virtual machine" metaphor is fantastic, but if everyone is running it to fit in with society...we're wasting a ton of brain space at the societal level.

Many recruiters try to put you at a disadvantage out of the gate by flipping the script from them selling a job to you to where you are "applying," to them. It's like they think they are on Tinder. Even as a neurotypical, I hang up on them too.

They called out this type of response in one of the articles linked from the main article... saying, "I also have that problem!" to someone trying to explain their autistic struggles is dismissing the extra difficulty they face. While it comes from a good place (trying to relate and show empathy), it actually can make them feel worse.

I think the point that OP bitL was getting at is that:

There is a large class of people who are not confident about an autism diagnosis.

They read an article like this looking for clues and discriminators about their autism status, and to better understand where they fall on the spectrum.

When the feedback is: "Don't many people have that problem?", it's not meant as a jibe or an attack on the struggle of autistic people. It's meant to ask: "So how do you tell if this symptom is predictive of autism, and why?"

So the answer to the first question, fellow readers, is "Yes, but not to the degree that they read an article about it and wonder if that's them"

It's like one of the pages with autism spectrum testing tools says: "If you take all of the tests on this page, you're probably on the autism spectrum." - most people won't diligently spend 3 or 4 hours trying to see if they're autistic, to a degree that is somewhat diagnostic.

The best tests available are things like https://psychology-tools.com/test/autism-spectrum-quotient - for reference, I'm diagnosed, and before I took it, I got a mid-level score, because I didn't understand the comparative degree to which those things were true for me, e.g. "I often notice small sounds when others do not" - how do you know if you aren't aware and ask?

So, it's a bit like the old saw about "If you have to ask, you'll never know" - it's worth seeing a mental health professional and asking them, because they can provide you the feedback that people on the spectrum are critically missing out on.

That’s right. This way of expressing similar experiences is actually sympathy, not empathy. And sympathy tends to be unhelpful for the person sympathized with, if not actively counter-productive.

Imagine complaining about an argument with a friend and your friend sympathizes by saying “yeah, I hate him too, he’s such an asshole”. Now you have to empathize with them, while also being unhappy about how they feel about your friend.

Yeah, I guess it's way more difficult for autistic persons :-( Aren't there any supplements that could "boost" the brain to at least decrease the burnout rate?

It may not be as simple as "supplements," but there are probably dietary and habitual augmentations to bolster these neuro-physiological resources. Sleep is crucial for replenishing neurotransmitters. Exercise is crucial for establishing biorhythms necessary to sleep. We're all fairly malnourished, given the modern western diet is biased towards cheap calories. Copper. Zinc. Iron. Deficiencies in all of these can cause mental health issues. Then there's the notorious (tenuous?) connection between suicidality and gluten.

Anyway, you can do your own research but as for supplements to facilitate extroversion... B vitamins?

You can compare the experience of an autistic person to the experience of the normal person if you increase the mental load of the normal person to compensate for the extra stress the autistic person is dealing with due to neurological factors.

Yes, and I think it's important to make that point. Most people get stressed out navigating complex or changing social environments and most people are not autistic.

Why do you think that this only applies to autistic people? That's exactly how a lot of non-autistic people feel/behave/strategize as well.

You have to realize that everyone is on the spectrum. Autism isn't a binary property.

Nobody claimed that.

This echoes so much to me. I'm working to start a company so I get paid enough to be able to take a vacation.

I feel like if I ever do get to that point. I would just spend the free time recuperating.

Is this really all that unique to autistic people though? Everyone is stuck in the rat-race.

Many people pick up the rules of the rat race quite readily as they play along learning what counts for points, what is foul, how and when to team up and so on. Autistic people tend to struggle with all of that and end up way outside the lines alone having to reel the situation in somehow.

Yes, and it never works. People don't remember what you did before, so the social and functional capital you've so carefully accumulated becomes worthless as soon as you need to cash in from some bump in the road :(

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

The scary thing about that is that most people are completely unaware of how they made other feel.

Because that's not an easy thing to be aware of, particularly not when most societal norms train you to suppress showing more extreme manifestations of emotions.

Just try imagining spending a whole day visibly smiling happy.

People who know you will ask you what's the happy occurrence, strangers will think you either mock them or are simply crazy, that's how out of the ordinary visibly being happy is considered, which is just super sad.

Hmm... Interesting point. I'm going to try that today and see what happens :-) Umm... Of course I barely see anyone except my wife and people on the street (because I work at home), but I wonder how it will make me feel (other than having a tired mouth...)

It does work (source: personal experience). But that depends on the kind of people you have been trying to accumulate that capital with. The real problem is that you don't have much if any control over who those people are in many cases where it matters most - school, work, family.

And then on top of that, depending on how far one is on the spectrum, it can be hard to judge people. It's not that you can't do it at all - it's that you are never really confident that you've got it right. And having an emergency plan that you're not confident in, but you know you will need to rely on at some point, can be very stressful in and of itself.

It sounds a lot like a substance abuser's mindset as well.

Yeah, this honestly fits an ongoing life pattern with me.

> For seven months, I didn’t leave the house. I had started ordering my groceries online. I didn’t have any reason to go anywhere. I wasn’t agoraphobic or afraid to leave my apartment. I just didn’t feel like it.

This has been me for the last few months. I just can't bring myself to do things I hate lately. I hate breathing cold, dry winter air and feeling it on my face, I hate being accosted on the street for cash, I hate the loud construction noise, I hate navigating through crowds of people and cars, I hate the overwhelming smells from exhaust and food trucks. I was able to deal with it for a while because I knew the expectations that came with living in a city like Seattle. It's just that the downsides are so many, and the upsides are so few. I want to preserve the facilities I have for doing things that I like and that allow me to make a living.

I'm hoping an upcoming move I've got planned will make it more pleasurable to engage with other people more regularly, but protecting my well-being still has to come first. I'm so incredibly fortunate to have a career that allows me enough income to offload menial things like shopping for groceries. I feel terrible for those of us on the spectrum without that option, as if I couldn't live this way I would end up being entirely dependent on my spouse or family. I can imagine that burning out + feeling guilty about being a burden financially makes recovery from that state even more difficult.

Also from the Seattle area and this hits home as well, except I am a bit agoraphobic and need to build up courage to go out.

I used to push myself to go to dev meetups and such, even gave a few presentations, but eventually stopped. The emotional cost of going was high, and when I would get back home feeling wiped out and reflecting on it, I realized I actually gained very little from the experience. All the socializing was just hollow small talk and no lasting connections were ever formed. Interest-based meetups I've found to generally be transient, ephemeral, and unfulfilling for those who can't muster the enormous social buy-in to get any meaningful results. Volunteer work was more satisfying, but also fleeting and temporary.

On the plus side I did gain experience in public speaking and discovered it really doesn't bother me (although the mingling afterwards is social anxiety hell). Unfortunately that skill on its own isn't terribly useful.

> I feel terrible for those of us on the spectrum without that option, as if I couldn't live this way I would end up being entirely dependent on my spouse or family. I can imagine that burning out + feeling guilty about being a burden financially makes recovery from that state even more difficult.

It is. I was swinging a remote-work career and doing the whole order-groceries-online shut-in routine as well. Eventually I succumbed to burnout for a host of reasons and the career crumbled to dust. Extended unemployment pulls you in like quicksand and I've been out of work for over a year now. I live in a converted tool shed in my parents back yard, and the guilt and shame is crushing. The erosion of self esteem saps your will to improve yourself, creating a vicious circle.

My last recourse at this point is to try to use this as an opportunity for learning and personal enrichment. While working I was myopically focused on programming and industry issues, and utterly ignored the wider world. I'm now trying to rectify that by reading more about philosophy, politics, history, etc.

There's so much more to the world than tech or vocation, and I regret ignoring that for so long. My advice to anyone in this situation is to, as much as your circumstances permit, expose yourself to a wider range of culture and find value and human dignity in ways other than your potential for capital generation. The value of a life is not measured in dollars, and don't let the world convince you that it is.

It feels like this is becoming a blog post or something, so I'll stop. Needless to say this topic hits home for me, as it seems to for many others here.

I'm sorry you had to go through that, but also happy you were able to take the time to learn more about yourself and the world. That experience is unfortunately still too hard to come by these days, though many individuals desperately need it.

I agree entirely with your conclusion. That is frankly another reason I'm leaving. The connections I've made here around tech (and other hobbies) are largely shallow and unfulfilling. I feel like all my income got eaten up by rent, and bad habits I justified as coping mechanisms. I can save up and use the money to actually build something back home (NC) to help people there in tangible ways. I do hope I find some time to catch a breather at some point so I can dedicate myself to that type of effort completely.

Thanks for sharing your experience and findings. I wish you well and hope you dont dwell on that regret. We all have to learn how wrong we have been sooner or later. I know I have. It's an unfortunate necessity of developing into a better person. Still sucks though.

> All the socializing was just hollow small talk and no lasting connections were ever formed.

You have to be the one who moves the conversation from chit-chat about the weather to interesting topics. Sure, it's fine to show up to a dev meeting and chat about your favorite APIs and all, but that won't help you make friends.

The vague process chart I personally use looks like this:

1. Determine if you share common interests with the person (eg, small talk about things you do)

2. Talk at a higher level about a single interest. A good trick is to treat the other person a bit like an expert about that interest - "Oh, what board game would you recommend for X?"

3. Make an offer to hangout in the future. It should be in a situation with multiple people and a public place. You're not trying to invite them to a date, but instead communicate that you're already doing something and want them to join: "Hey, I hang out Tuesdays with some folks at the comicbook shop and play boardgames. You should come join us."

4. If the person finds that agreeable or reciprocates, exchange contact info. I usually just hand them my phone with my contact info on the screen so they can choose their preferred method, but you can also give them a personal card.

Congrats, you've now made a new person you know. Hang out with them, invite them to things. Relationships are like gardens, they require regular tending and maintenance at first but as they get established, they only need occasional check-ins.

> You have to be the one that moves the conversation

Why is it always up to me? I feel the same as parent poster - I go to events or work functions or what-have-you and the onus is always on me - the one with stunted social skills - to advance things along.

Are there really no people that can at least bootstrap things for me? Or is it the case that those people with social competence already have a healthy social life and aren't actually interested in any deeper connection to begin with?

Herein is where my "you're a dummy" thought loops kick in on this. I can see it is a little spoiled to demand that a social life be handed to me with no work involved, but on the other hand, I see a bootstrapping problem here:

How am I supposed to invite new people to the comic book shop when I don't have the aforementioned "some folks" or the shop itself?

Gardens are great when you have good soil and plants already in place, but I feel like I am tearing up old blacktop and trying to build a garden on top of it.

Having a deeper connection requires having shared interests and enough in common to form that bond. There are plenty of people who may be perfectly social, but not share much of anything in common with you (which you can mitigate by expanding your interests).

> Are there really no people that can at least bootstrap things for me?

There are, it's whoever assembled your meetup/function/etc. Getting a bunch of people in a room together who share at least some kind of commonality is a borderline magic trick, and it's a ton of work.

Your job is to pair it down from there, because you don't have anyone who knows you well enough to do that last mile for you. You might get there - if you make good friends with organizers, you will be the person they introduce new folks to.

> How am I supposed to invite new people to the comic book shop..

There's two elements to this. One of which is just actually leaving your house to go to meetups or places on a regular basis - find your local board game shop (or other interest - hiking, old movies, food, etc) and go to that thing with some regularity.

The second element is to talk with folks. Maybe even folks with whom you don't have a connection yet, but enough to exchange your lists of interests and whatnot. If you struggle for things to talk about, use tools like FORD (Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams) or the interview strategy ("Oh, and what got you into hiking?").

You don't have to have a deep connection to have folks you enjoy spending time with, even if it's just playing Catan once a week - but that's at least your bootstrap.

> My advice to anyone in this situation is to, as much as your circumstances permit, expose yourself to a wider range of culture and find value and human dignity in ways other than your potential for capital generation.

Ties into the other article on the front page about mitigating climate change.

I've been unemployed for two years after graduating, plus a short tense stint at a fast food place. It's hard to write any software. All I do is read HN and about technologies without actually doing anything. Have had several medical professionals "really think" I am autistic, but none were qualified to diagnose.

It's way too hard to find paid work. If I could earn minimum wage by coding simple, small systems, I would be so happy.

Can you find work in a tangential field like software or systems support / troubleshooting ? It's not as sexy or well-paid as software engineering, but working tickets gives you clearly defined work accomplishments that can show off your troubleshooting skills. And I learned that talking to customers isn't actually the worst thing - you basically learn a script and stick to it. You will still burn out after a year or so, but it's an easier resume pivot to dev work than other non-industry gigs.

I started my career writing automated tests, and have also had a development job where developers did support. If I couldn't be paid to code, I'd much much rather do manual QA than support.

My manual QA colleagues at my first job were all highly intelligent people without much formal education, and the ones interested in programming had the option to move into automated QA.

Yep, QA is a good option too. Personally, I enjoyed the heck out of my support gigs though (first IT Support for a college, then AWS engineering support) - found QA to be a pretty boring the one time I did a bit at an internship. If I'm being honest, I think I loved the urgency and feeling like a hero when I solve a customer's problem - and I liked that problems changed frequently. I tend to work pretty well under pressure though. If the commenter above is able to keep themselves motivated doing QA / is not into working under tight time/urgency pressures, I can see QA being a better fit for them. But Support can open plenty of doors, and I've known a few other autism spectrum folks who did very well at it and moved up the ladder to dev or devops roles.

Maybe, thanks. I'll look into it.

Where (or to what kind of area) are you moving? Will you drive?

Raleigh NC, it's a little slower-paced down there - plus warmer and sunnier. I'm hoping to get a place near the college or downtown for walkability, but will probably still end up spending a little more time in the car. Luckily my spouse doesn't mind driving. Though they do have instacart and prime now these days too, so I'll have options. I've lived there before and the only big downside then was the career growth opportunities, but I've got a sweet remote gig now, so that's covered.

How much does remote gig pay you?

Don't like to go into specifics online - but same amount as I've been offered for a senior devops position in NYC (not financial tech to be clear, but the offer was still solid from my research). So it's a good deal for me.


> Ultimately, for me, passing as “normal” means that I am now a fake person, never able to be myself without putting my ability to make a living in jeopardy.

> An issue that was previously “fixed” can suddenly appear to be “broken” again. In fact, nothing has been fixed or broken. We simply have very fluid coping strategies that need to be continuously tweaked and balanced.

Bipolar I here. As an episodic disease, bipolar is extremely susceptible to this passing/masking phenomenon. I have been "stable" for so many years that even close co-workers can't detect anything, and I hardly even notice how much effort I put into "passing". But the effort does tax you and build up over time. This post really hits home for me, and I identify strongly with this kind of play-acting and exhaustion (without claiming to understand, or taking anything away from, the autism spectrum experience).

Moreover, I consistently underestimate the amount of detox and rest that I need to recover from this constant performing. To borrow a line from Rogers & Hammerstein, "whenever I fool the people I act neurotypical for, I fool myself as well". I forget I need to take care of myself.

Thank you Ryan for aggregating & posting!

me too on both the diagnosis and "I forget I need to take care of myself."

It's really a struggle to maintain normalcy in the professional world and take care of myself.

I've always wondered if everyone is just acting to pass as neurotypical, when everyone is really just acting. And maybe there could be some way that everyone could just be real with each other and realize that no one is actually truly neurotypical. How do we tell if anyone is really neurotypical? And what would it look like if everyone was actually neurotypical?

Would this mean that the phases of energy that people are using to act normal is actually energy that we really don't need to waste?

This hits home for me and my experiences.

People often believe what they see and first impressions are strong. I seem like a perfectly functional hearing person 97% of the time, but the 3% of the time when I can't cover the gap, people tend to react with incredulity because they can't believe I have an actual disability. Some days I just don't want to deal with it because it's exhausting.

I've never really found a good solution to this that doesn't just require patience and persistence from the start. The best approach I've found is to be up-front from the start about my deafness and then to just "lie" about not being able to hear periodically to reinforce the "he's got a hearing problem" memory.

In the past, I used to try to be explicit and say things like "I'm sorry, but the air conditioning or something is droning and I can't hear you well," but that generally derails as people try to explain my own hearing to me with things like "that's so quiet, how it is louder than me" or "if you can hear THAT you should be able to hear me," etc.

I'm not even sure what I've got. I can hear very well. With enough focus I can follow people and animals around at pretty sizeable distances. I practice that. Or perhaps I should say I enjoy doing that, in the dark in the small pieces of forest that still remain where I live. I can easily follow a conversation from 30 meters distance, with sufficient focus.

But I cannot process, and sometimes not focus on multiple people talking, even when they're not talking through one another. I can tell you a lot generally about their speech, just not what it says. Where they're standing, tone of voice, are they moving, what their intentions are. But if there are 2 conversations in earshot of me I cannot tell you what anybody is saying even if they're shouting to me. If 3 people are standing around and talking I can only participate if I totally ignore one of them and just blindly shut them out, whatever they're saying. Sometimes it gets worse and even with little disturbance I just cannot tell anymore what people are saying to me.

People don't understand. In a 1:1 conversation I'm warm, open, attentive and so on. In a 3 way or more conversation, I'm cold, absent, distracted, annoying (because: very bored) ... Worse, often suddenly, from their perspective, I no longer understand them. I've learned to just hide this, and guess, and find some other excuse to turn the conversation back into a 1:1 conversation.

That sounds like auditory processing disorder.

Reading it, it seems not to fit very well. I can process speech just fine, I just don't seem to be able to switch from one person to another without a long time to make it happen.

> I've never really found a good solution to this that doesn't just require patience and persistence from the start.

The kinds and amount of emotional labor that the "invisibly disabled" have to do for the "normal" people in our worlds is sometimes a full-time, completely exhausting, job of its own.


It means that, despite being the one with the brain that processes human emotion and social cues radically less efficiently than other people, I'm the one who, e.g., has to explain to the "emotionally competent" not to rageface at me for not understanding (or, more likely, even perceiving) the cues they probably aren't even aware they're emitting.

Yeah, that's pure "SJW". (Flagged for that, btw. Never in the history of online discourse has that term served as anything but an attempt to shut people up. Throwing it around un-ironically is prima facie bad-faith discourse.)

How about, "It's fucking hard to have a brain that the overwhelming majority of people fail utterly to understand, recognize, or allow for in their behavior; who, more often than not, act like I'm the one malingering, or attention-seeking, or whatever; and that it is the utter antithesis of 'self-indulgence' to be piqued by that."

If you saw "crying victim" in my comment, you must have been looking for it, because I'm damned sure there wasn't any when I wrote it. I was offering a token voice of solidarity to someone who thinks it's bullshit that he should have to justify how his own hearing works to people. Because it is.


I am sorry if you took that as directed to your comment.

You literally replied to their comment.

For you, "SJW" evokes "an attempt to shut people up" or "bad-faith discourse".

It's name-calling, so yeah.

For me, "emotional labour" evokes something more political, which I often see derided here.

So I see what you're saying, because a lot of people use this term in political ways.

But I think politics aside, it's a pretty important psychological and cultural concept. I don't know if there's a better term for it that doesn't feel politically coded. Do you have a better suggestion? Maybe read over my thoughts and let me know what you think.

Basically, there are many things people do to keep society polite and orderly. In most cases, for most people, being polite is just a normal part of doing business with the world.

But just imagine---for the sake of argument---that you have an obvious physical deformity, and strangers constantly stop and make you feel weird in a way that is not really socially acceptable. Yet you are expected constantly to maintain the social order and respond to these gawking and obtrusive strangers in a polite way. Wouldn't that be a little exhausting? Particularly if you were having a shitty day, and weren't feeling particularly polite?

This is the phenomenon people are talking about when they use the term "emotional labor". It means that people are being shitty to you, but they don't understand that, so for that reason it would be impolite for you to point out they're being shitty to you, so you just eat shit and move on with your life.

We could call this "politeness", but that terms elides the nuance that sometimes it is really emotionally exhausting to be polite and maintain social order all the time.

I replied to that comment because stood out the most, due to this choice of words.

Regarding the concept of "emotional labour" you define, I am neutral. I am not saying it does not exist - I just believe it is a common human experience, even if it may hit some people more often than others.

I just have a problem with what I perceive to be either A) an inability to feel a similar level empathy toward people who have different problems or B) hypocrisy.

Seriously, imagine the same article towards another similar issue, and think about the conditional probability of finding the same supportive comment.

Are these accusations of hypocrisy and lack of empathy directed at rosser specifically? Or are you complaining about the general sentiment on HN? Or are you complaining about something in your imagination (since you mentioned it)?

The reason people use terms like “emotional labor” is because it’s a label for an important concept that doesn’t have other terms. It allows us to get a qualitative grasp of why, for example, different policies can affect metrics like productivity and turnover for different groups of workers.

The term “SJW” is not much more than a pejorative. It’s not very useful otherwise.

Again, this is not to rosser specifically, but to the general sentiment on HN.

I used the word imagination to consider the likelihood of an identical overwhelmingly positive response, yet directed at something that is not autism - say minorities for example.

To state that very clearly: I believe there is a differential treatment on HN for some topics such as Asperger, autism, ADHD, burnout (etc).

This can be seen by the responses it generates: keywords (regardless of their pejorativeness or the importance of the concept) are different, and some things that often don't fly do appear to fly.

If you believe it is in my imagination, do a sentiment analysis using the text of the comments for group1=(autism, Asperger, ...) group2=(minorities, women...) , then check with a t-test if the response is different.

I reject the null.

This is a valid point but does nothing to justify your earlier comments in the thread, which were basically garbage and that’s why one of the reasons why they’re flagged/dead.

The reason why people find hypocrisy so aggravating stems from the underlying mechanics of how virtue signaling works. Hypocrites are not worse in some moral sense, in fact they’re the opposite, but they are threats to other people’s social capital. Maybe that’s also the reason you’re interested in attacking hypocrisy, but these attacks are at best misdirected.

From the standpoint of someone reading your comments, it’s looks like you’re attacking someone who doesn’t deserve it (even if that’s not your intent, it’s how it looks). If you’re attacking someone who doesn’t deserve it as an attack on hypocrisy, that looks like nothing more than a bare-faced virtue signaling game play.

It sounds like your comments are connected to some genuine desire for equality and empathy for oppressed groups, so if I were you, I would consider whether the mechanics of how you are advocating for your position make sense in your value framework. Does it make sense for you to make accusations of SJW-coding? Or will people think that the term “SJW” is little more than a pejorative used by the alt-right to discredit the socially progressive?

The other problem is that it’s a common tactic to sabotage conversations about oppression—bringing up other oppressed groups as a comparison. This technique can be used to sabotage almost any conversation about any oppressed group. Well-meaning progressives will engage use this tactic unintentionally, and trolls will use it on purpose. More broadly speaking, this technique is straight out of the cold war era Soviet Union propaganda playbook for attacking and discrediting western nations.

The comment I replied supportively to was from a person whose disability involved their hearing.

Given the context of the article, that the ensuing discussion was about autism should come as little surprise, but my initial comment was completely neutral as to the nature of the disability, beyond its visibility.

As such, it might, if one were inclined to read it with its author's intent, constitute a notable data point, given your perception of "an inability to feel a similar level empathy toward people who have different problems".

> Yeah, that's pure "SJW". (Flagged for that, btw. Never in the history of online discourse has that term served as anything but an attempt to shut people up. Throwing it around un-ironically is prima facie bad-faith discourse.)

Do try to be more careful about speaking in absolutes. They have this annoying habit of not actually being true.

> Do try to be more careful about speaking in absolutes.

The phrase “prima facie” means “at first glance”. It emphasizes that the judgment is not absolute, but merely gives a strong impression.

And the "never in the history of online discourse" bit was hyperbole. But I'm not surprised if that was missed, all things considered.

We went through the ASD diagnostic process with our son, and it left us very sceptical about the whole thing. I was never convinced he had ASD (and I'm still not), but some psychologist talked us into it.

I really got the impression the psychologist was cherrypicking information (especially in the parent interview) just to check things off the diagnostic criteria. Everything he did that vaguely sounded like an ASD symptom was attributed to ASD, with no real thought as to whether it actually is or not. I compared her report to the DSM-5 criteria, I didn't get the impression she was actually applying the criteria properly, just doing her own thing and then invoking its name at the end as if it was some magic spell.

Her diagnostic report claimed our son (who was about to start school) needed all this special education help (timers in school, sensory diet, etc), and she really wanted us to give it to his school. The report sounded like a bad caricature of our son. We decided not to give it to the school and not tell them anything about it. And his teacher tells us he is going very well.

She also put him down in the report as being ASD Level 2, but she told us verbally she only thought he was Level 1, but she always puts people down as Level 2 or above because that's the cut-off for Australian government disability funding ("NDIS List A").

He's mostly normal kid, rather like myself at the same age. He's very intelligent, social stuff isn't his strong suit (but so what, it's never been mine either.) He's very shy, but my wife says she was even worse at his age. We did go through a period last year when his behaviour was becoming rather unmanageable (aggression, defiance, hyperactivity), but he's much much better now (so much so that we took him off his ADHD meds) and I think a lot of those behaviour problems were due to family stresses (new baby), parental mental illness (I have anxiety/depression, and I suspect my wife does too, although she resists diagnosis), sub-optimal parenting skills, rather than ASD and/or ADHD and/or whatever.

When people say that ASD is being overdiagnosed, and I look at what this psychologist did, I think it really is.

I think a lot of psychologists really have no clue. I was diagnosed with bi-polar II when I was 10, then major depressive disorder, then adhd, the oppositional defiance disorder. I was put on so many different medications which fucked me up and stole my adolescents from me. I ended up a ward of the state and cycled through more than a few mental institutions in my teens. Then I met someone who was like “I think this kids previous shrinks fucked up. I’m taking him off all the medication and then I’m going to observe him and find a diagnosis.”

Turns out I had Aspergers. So at age 15 I was diagnosed, and then participated in a few brain studies which confirmed it. I stayed off the medication and went through therapy focusing on life skills and human relationship training (how to talk to and interact with huerotyipicals).

Since then my life has been pretty good. It’s had its ups and downs, but a wonderful journey into my 30s.

In my case I was on the spectrum, but the whole experience has made me very skeptical of psychologists. I sometimes think about how many terrible programmers there are. I think the same spread of skills probably exists in every profession. Unfortunately, in psychology if you’re bad at your job, you end up ruining lives.

Like anything else, it’s best to shop around.

No, of course it's completely logical generalise the whole field of psychology and the diagnosis and treatment of complex mental disorders from the singular experience you had - especially when they've told you they're trying to get you the most help they can from various government bureaucracies. It's also perfectly logical to just take a face value your child's teacher's opinion that "they're fine" when they've got 20+ other children to worry about and monitor. Don't worry, you're the parent and you always know best - and you're sure to tell other people too. /s

I was diagnosed with ADHD three times as a child, my parents never believed it and chose to never tell me or get me the help or medication or accommodation I needed because "I was fine". By god, I'm getting treated now and holy hell life would've been a billion times more enjoyable and productive if they'd just listened, or even told me later so that I could decide. I know you're just trying to do the best you can, but jeez this is sad - if you doubt the diagnosis, fine - get a second opinion, and a third, but think that if they're all the same, you went there for a reason and they're probably right.

(same person, new throwaway, forgot password to the previous one)

> if you doubt the diagnosis, fine - get a second opinion

We actually tried to get a second opinion. We went to another psychologist for one, she booked us in, but then her superiors cancelled it. They said if a child has been diagnosed as having ASD Level 2, they didn't want to repeat the assessment since there was a risk they might get undiagnosed or only diagnosed as Level 1, which would remove his eligibility for government disability funding (NDIS). (Which we still haven't applied for, because we aren't convinced he needs it, and don't know what to spend it on anyway.) They wanted us to go to see some paediatrician they like, who is actually a colleague of our son's existing one.

Instead we took him back to his existing paediatrician. He said he too was a bit sceptical about the diagnosis, but that psychological diagnosis isn't an entirely objective process, and it doesn't really matter whether he has ASD or not, and it would be a waste of time to repeat the assessment, so we should just do nothing about it for 6-12 months, and see how he goes, and consider repeating the assessment in another 2-3 years.

The NDIS funding might be useful when your child is an adult, in the event that your child has difficulty finding and keeping a full-time job.

As an adult with Asperger's/Autism in a full-time job -- I agree that your child might not need the funding. But at this point, it is probably too early to tell.

I can also imagine a situation where a person with Autism was relying on, say, a bus funded by NDIS as part of their routine, was re-diagnosed as L1, had their routine disrupted, and came back to the psychiatrist and had a meltdown in the office. You'd only need one or two of these experiences to decide on a blanket policy to not rediagnose folks.

Fair enough. I'm sorry for being so harsh and sarcastic in my initial response; that was uncalled for.

My 5-year-old daughter was just diagnosed with ASD. I was beyond skeptical through the entire process -- until I started seeing what they were seeing. If you go back and watch videos of her when she was younger you see it then, too. She's an incredible kid, intelligent, curious, goofy. I am still not sure I've really accepted it, but the help she's getting is really helping her. Unless you're a psychologist I don't think you should be "convinced". Get a second opinion if you don't believe it. Don't let your pride get in the way of teaching your son the _healthy_ coping mechanisms he might need.

I'd say everything else you just said describes us as well (stress, parental mental illness, etc), but I can't attribute her behavior to those things. That's just how she's always been, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I am an adult who was diagnosed with Asperger's in 5th grade.

How old is your kid? If they are as high-functioning as you claim, then you should involve them in the decision-making about what to do. ("Do you want me to tell your teachers you have autism?", "Would you like plain food at school?", etc.)

When I was in school, the written "Individual Education Plan" said that I got an extra 30 minutes per hour on tests. In practice, this starts a conversation between the teachers that says, "this student needs special handling for tests". In practice, the accommodation I requested (and usually got) was permission to walk out of a test or exam as soon as I finished (sometimes half an hour early).

He's 5. He's just started kindergarten.

We haven't told him about either the ADHD or the ASD diagnosis. We will tell him the full story when he is older (both what he was diagnosed with, and why we are sceptical about the diagnoses.)

Since we haven't told the school about any of his diagnoses, he obviously doesn't get any special consideration for them. But he enjoys school, he reports no problems and neither does his teacher.

It’s pretty wild that a parent and teacher survey[0], with least likely to most likely responses, is considered “truth” to diagnose adhd (the only diagnosis I’ve fully studied, but I believe depression and Austim are similar).

Thank god your son has a parent like you though — some medicate the personality out of their child, holding on to the shoddy diagnosis.

I hope as a society we can change all this — currently working on experimental assessments using direct brain data (eeg) to provide a bit of “truth” to the process.

[0] NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale—Informant


What's important is to remain open to the possibility, because if you're wrong, your child is in for a world of hurt. I did very well in school, was a model student, and continued to do so until I was so exhausted by high school that I just stopped trying. I had no idea I was autistic, so I couldn't explain what was going on when I started missing classes to be alone, and going from a straight a student to doing only what was necessary to reach a c+.

One thing that's maybe worth looking into is gifted children, overexcitabilities and asynchronous development. It very common to misdiagnose young gifted children with ADHD, Aspergers and other behavioural disorders. This is because at a young age the symptoms are very similar and it generally requires a more indepth interview with the child to tell the differences.

This is a good article about the differences: https://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10900

That's not to say some kids aren't both. But the rush to diagnose kids, along with the relatively simplistic diagnosis process many psychologists use can lead to misdiagnosis.

You may want to look into Pathological Demand Avoidance. It's very new, and has basically no awareness outside of the UK, but it seems to describe a class of people (including myself), who exhibit symptoms similar to people who are classically autistic or have aspergers, but with much better social skills.

Webpage: https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/pda.aspx

Book: https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Pathological-Avoidance-...

I never recovered from the addictive ADHD medication I was put on as a child.

I'd rather have been allowed to fail out of school than grow up a straight-A Addict.

DSM is a US standard, does Australia have a different standard?

Almost every country uses the ICD-10.

For ASD diagnosis in particular, Australia mostly uses DSM-5 rather than ICD-10. Most professionals are now diagnosing just ASD (per DSM-5), rather than the DSM-IV-TR/ICD-10 diagnoses of autism, Aspergers, PDD-NOS, CDD, etc.

Talking about medicine in general, Australia uses ICD-10-AM, which is the Australian national modification of ICD-10. By comparison, the US uses ICD-10-CM, which is the US national modification of ICD-10. Not sure exactly what the differences are – while the ICD-10 and ICD-10-CM code lists are freely available, you have to pay $$$ to even see the ICD-10-AM code list online (or go find a printed copy in a medical school library)

From the psychologist's perspective, it seems like she might actually think she was doing you a favor because of the disability funding...

From a parent's perspective, it would have been nice if she'd asked us first "Would you like the most accurate possible diagnosis, or would you like an 'overcooked' one which maximises the odds of you getting approved for government disability funding?" She just assumed we wanted the second without even asking us.

To the contrary, she told you what the actual diagnosis was and why she put on paper what she put.

Get a second and third opinions.

For the longest time my high functioning autism, formerly aspergers. Took a toll on me. I was second guessing every step at work.

Do I say hi, how do I make small talk. What's the appropriate distance for personal space. I wasn't afraid of people. I was afraid of acting outside of neurotically behavior, and causing an uncomfortable work place.

Now I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I take a very honey badger approach to work. Zero shits given at work. This has made it much easier. Not that I don't deliver work, or half ass it. I just put aside any personal attachment.

I did have the aspie burn out before getting into my own routine. Work as above, but social interaction stimuli. Self discovery is key for anyone on the spectrum. For me things like constantly having earbuds, textile I wear, maintaining light (via sunglasses), etc.

One of my biggest pet peeves is noted in the article. Constantly being told I'm not autistic. Just because I don't appear that way doesn't mean I'm not.

Right now my burnout is a sister symptom of the autism. In so much that it not directly caused. But a resulting effect. Where in I'm constantly moving or switching jobs. Because I don't feel stimulated at work, or challenged. The other big item is I don't do politics. Which can be very detrimental.

I still view being on the spectrum as more of a benefit. But it does require a fair amount of self awareness.

Not doing politics is not a mental disorder it's being noble.

I don't like politics, but I have to admit nearly every major human achievement is a political effort.

I think this referred to office politics.

Are you implying offices aren’t involved in significant human achievement?

Idk if I'm autistic, but I do identify with this post to a surprising degree. My solution was quitting my job and working on projects hoping that one of them will take off. I've talked about it here on HN many times and a lot of people have reached out. I've convinced two of my friends to do the same and they've never been happier.

It's viable, you might need to scale down your life-style a bit but I've never been happier.

Programming on things you care about is a lot easier if you have a lot of time.

I really appreciate (and relate to) this discussion, but I wanted to point out that some folks out there don't mind people who are a little on the spectrum. You don't always have to pretend to be somebody else. Some people will like you the way you are, or, will tolerate and respect you even if they don't like you.

It seems like the authors never attempted an alternative: pushing back on people's assumptions and being themselves more often. People like and respect Spock and Sherlock Holmes. I get that those are extreme and fictional examples, but you don't have to be extroverted and "normal" to be liked. I'm not saying it'll be perfect, or always easy for you, but there are societal niches which don't mind that some people are weird. More importantly, they can tell that you're altruistic and well-intending, even if you you come off a little poorly socially.

I'm going to push back a bit on this. People like Spock and Sherlock only because they are incredibly capable. That is, it's entirely predicated on their instrumental value, not because of their personality. If they weren't as capable, people wouldn't hesitate to kick them to the curb and never interact with them.

Not to mention they never have to deal with the "step one" of giving them a chance. Even if they would find them indispensable if actually hired due to being a 10x performer getting in the door is a challenge when they would rather pay attention to irrelevancies of posture than actual qualifications.

That sort of talent filtering for stupid reasons is very not new - going back at the very least sexist exclusion from fields and Jewish university quota caps (as in maximum number of Jewish scholars) - let alone cases where people with massive potential never had the resources for education.

This got dark fast. I was just trying to say that autistic personalities weren't universally hated.

Spock and Sherlock are fictional. I simply meant them as an example of autistic personalities reaching acceptance in popular culture.

Pick any other fictional character who is neurotypical and extroverted: the people who want to emulate them are almost certainly a pale comparison. But, those archetypes are popular in culture, and accepted.

Generally I am lucky enough to ride the burnout fine. But there are times when I'm in a meeting and all the sudden I just can't talk and start studdering or something. One time I said I had three points and could only remember two, literally seconds later. Wow!

Probably happens twice a year during stressful times...

On the upside - I get a lot done! :)

This happens to me as well. I sometimes avoid speaking in meetings because the act of drawing the attention of the whole room on me tends to compromise my ability to think and speak clearly. So I can start with a completely coherent set of points I want to make, but when I start actually talking I can no longer “remember” them, which in the worst case could make me seem incompetent. I use quotes because I don’t believe it’s a legitimate lapse of memory so much as it is a sort of social overload that shuts part of me down.

This doesn’t always happen and I’ve found the exact conditions that trigger it to be complex. A huge factor is definitely whether I know everyone in the meeting in advance and feel comfortable with them. This is partly why I choose to stay at a job for years instead of job hopping — once I feel comfortable and stable with coworkers, suddenly I’m not only able to speak coherently in meetings but in fact I can even enjoy running large meetings with no issues.

I have a similar experience -- I was going to say that my intelligence seems to vary inversely with my level of social anxiety, but I don't think it's quite that consistent. Sometimes my intellect really seems to shut down for no particularly good reason. If I may lapse into bullshit evo-psych for a moment: I guess my brain sometimes decides that I'm in a social emergency (perhaps if I say one more embarrassing thing I'll be ostracised from the tribe and left for dead!) and it needs to devote 90% of its cognitive resources to that problem.

I have similar experience? Am I autistic?

> Am I autistic?

I wouldn't assume so, unless you have other reasons to think so. I'm not diagnosed autistic, and I wouldn't self-diagnose either, though I do think I'm on the autistic side of 'normal' for some traits.

Seconding that. It sometimes happens to me even in one on one situations, I find eye contact extremely distracting and over-stimulating and I often have to look away to focus on what someone is saying or I get lost. Apparently this is weird.

My problem, in general, is that I run just below redline normally. So any extra stressors and I'm kaput for a week.

Hmm... so I have Asperger's Syndrome, and my thoughts on the article are a bit varied.

Honestly I don't think I've experienced burnout from trying to normalize. There are probably a lot of reasons for that... I have a pretty good support system, I enjoy understanding other people, and perhaps I just don't always take it fully seriously.

I have had burnout related to other things. I personally think all people get burnt out if they are stressed out for a long period of time or deal with too many changes at once. That's not something super tied to Autism in my experience. Just tied to being human

I do relate to taking normalization a bit less seriously as I've gotten older. Partly because sometimes the normal thing to do isn't the best option. So perhaps I risk looking a bit weird at the cost of doing what I think is better. Going on my mission helped with that quite a bit I think.

So yeah, kinda mixed feelings. I'm sure some have felt what's described, I personally have not though.

Interesting, definitely had the experience of thinking "Am I becoming more autistic?" but just put it down to caring less about what other people think about it. Now I wonder if this is closer to the truth.

I'm not sure but I'm pretty confident I've experienced a degradation of memory. I combat it with copious note taking and judicious use of a calendar but it does feel unpleasant. I do wonder if it's simply because I do more activities within a single day than I used to in my previous routine of development on a single application one task at a time + social. Now I can have to deal with many tasks for many customers all vying for my attention in parallel.

EDIT: Found great improvement from wearing headphones and sunglasses outdoors though. Helps me avoid too much new information in the morning when my brain is best suited for taking on new information and I have the minimal number of draws on my attention.

Latest discovery on my part, after the burnout, a heavy magnesium supplement helps a lot. Especially with the foggy brain, and the physical contact with others.

I definitely commonly fall into a cyclic productivity setup, though I am not sure if I would call it 'burnout'. I think that burnout is coupled with disgust for the primary activity, while my lows are characterized by low executive function, not quite at odds with disgust but personally I love my work, and I am just not thinking right when I am at my lows.

There doesn't seem to be intrinsically grinding pain to neurotypical behaviors. I say this because for the past couple months I have fixed the productivity highs and lows into a nice marathon pace. I will see how long this pans out of course.

As someone with ADHD and bi-polar like cycles, I can fully relate to this. I'm burnt out right now - exactly as he describes. Problem is, the rollacoaster doesnt let you get off.

man I've been needing this for a while. this is basically what happens to me any time I take a job in the corporate sector and have to heavily constrain myself. it usually ends with me spiraling down into addiction self medicating with whatever helps me manage to function even just 1% better (subjectively speaking of course, i probably just get worse!)

nowadays im trying to just stick to cannabis and nootropics (namely memantine as nmda antagonism also tends to help me function and maintain the neurotypical façadre) though as they tend to get the job done without putting my body and mind in danger. I have a job interview with wpengine coming up so im hoping that maybe this time I can do it right because I don't really have any other options. im essentially going to lose my place to live at the end of the year so I really need to make sure I figure out a healthy way to maintain if I get the job.

im open to advice if anyone has any suggestions, as ive tried to do this alone my entire adult life, and i just can't seem to figure it out. you give me a formal discipline, something I can quantify and study every aspect of and ill have no problems figuring it out, but when it comes to figuring out how to irl properly i am but an inchoate

"im essentially going to lose my place to live at the end of the year so I really need to make sure I figure out a healthy way to maintain if I get the job"

Start with finding a healthy way to maintain even if you don't get the job. That will put you in a place where you'll be able to find and retain one.

you know, i think that's what I meant to type because that makes a lot more sense to me now that i think about it. evidently sitting in a hot bath makes me lazier about my typing. who would have guessed

I'm confused, what makes 'autistic burnout' any different than regular 'burnout'? The stories linked in the post seem to be just describing burnout, though I've not clicked into the linked pages. What am I missing that makes autistic burnout different?

Autistic burnout is partially a result of pretending to be "normal" around other people (those who don't understand and judge autistic behaviour like stimming). "Normal" people can also experience this burnout if they're also pretending to be someone they are not (day in, day out).

Part of the problem is that people don't realize that everyone is on the spectrum, autism isn't a binary "property". The other, bigger, part of the problem is that there seems to be a negative stereotypical view of people with mental illnesses or just people who aren't "normal". Unfortunately autistic people fall towards that category in the current social context.

> Autistic burnout is partially a result of pretending to be "normal" around other people (those who don't understand and judge autistic behaviour like stimming). "Normal" people can also experience this burnout if they're also pretending to be someone they are not (day in, day out).

Wait, so autistic burnout is just regular burnout, but from general social interactions? I get that we're all on this autistic spectrum[0], but I think we all just get burnt out from time to time when dealing with jerks and other people in general. Is it just that autistic people get more tired from the standard social guessing game? If this is a spectrum, then where is the cut-off? Is it all self-diagnosis then?

Also, what is stimming?

Sorry for all the questions. Feel free to answer any/none of them. Thanks for the answers thus far!

[0] Also, how is the spectrum any different than just the normal range of being a human? It sounds like we've just got a new word for another normally distributed human thing, like height or hearing ranges.

> It sounds like we've just got a new word for another normally distributed human thing

I was trying to find some stats on the distribution myself, but couldn't find anything. All the data that's easily searchable is about people who have ASD :/

> Is it just that autistic people get more tired from the standard social guessing game? If this is a spectrum, then where is the cut-off? Is it all self-diagnosis then?

I guess so, I'm no expert on this myself, just know that I'm relatively high on the spectrum, but below this "magical" threshold you mention. From personal experience most social interactions for me are very tiring, especially around non close friends/family. However I can't comment on whether this is normal for most people since I've always been this way. I self-diagnosed myself through literature and a few online tests, but it's obviously not as accurate as a real diagnosis done by a professional. You can try to self-diagnose, but you obviously have to take the results with a bucket of salt.

>Also, what is stimming?

Short for stimulating. Basically engaging your senses to make yourself feel calmer/more comfortable. This explains it in more detail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stimming

> Self-stimulatory behavior, also known as stimming[1] and self-stimulation,[2] is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or words, or the repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities and most prevalent in people on the autism spectrum.

... Holy Shit ... I do this all the time ... I'm autistic?

Where does one do more tests?

hahaha maybe a little, but that language is also pretty general.

This is the one I took: https://psychology-tools.com/test/autism-spectrum-quotient

And then "verified" with other random ones.

For ASD Individuals “Masking and Passing” is the primary mode of trying to “make it” in the world. It means we try to fake being normal as much as possible so folks see us and treat us as normal. This requires constant concsious thought as to our actions, our intuition and our judgement of other people and their emptional state, because we are absolutely terrible at reading other people. As an example, most people can tell the difference between if someone is excited or angry. I cannot. Anger and excitement look very similar to me. Similarly tiredness and extreme sadness looks very similar to me. So I have to constantly evaluate given other contextual clues what mental state the other person is in. This is an ongoing and very conscious process using logic and deduction. Nuerotypicals do not have to do this. You might get confused from time to time as a neurotyoical and ask someone “What’s wrong” to clarify but for us, it is a constant state of confusion. It gets fucking tiring. We spend our entire lives trying to conform to the world around us, while we are lost 90% of the time.

This by the way, is why I made the decision to “come out of the closet” and damn the consequences because for me personally, I am just done trying. It’s been a freeing experience and has given me energy I never thought I would have. The skills I’ve learned from “masking and passing” are still there and are definitely still relevant and helpful, but I just don’t put as much effort into it as I used to.

I really think that more ASD people need to come out of the closet too. We need to start demanding that the world understands us and meets us halfway. So far it’s been a one way street, and that’s just not viable long term.

They can no longer pass as a nuerotypical while they are burnt out, which I'm guessing can make things more difficult.

Who else thinks that this autism was caused by this school and the fact that this guy believed, for some reason, that he deserved such treatment ?

Honestly I know this probably sounds insensitive which isn't my intent but I feel like a substantial amount of noise around these mental condition labels are people using them to subconsciously raise the victim flag instead of dealing with shit, either personally or by proxy (parents claiming kids are abnormal, when really they are just bad or absentee parents). There must be a technical term for this perspective in the science, could anyone with a psych background fill us in?

I read a really good blog the other day which I can't find any more. Its gist was that society, but particularly schools, are a lot less tolerant of 'quirks' than they used to be.

Nowadays if a child is fidgety and energetic people (teachers, psychiatrists etc) want to get them tested for ADHD and put them on ritalin to fix the 'problem', whereas previously we'd just view it as a quirk and make sure that kid had some time to tire themselves out.

I'm not sure why we're less tolerant now, my guess is an overworked education system and teachers (in the UK anyway). It's harder to just ignore quirks when you've massive class sizes.

I'm reminded of how some people complain that there are a lot more queer people around and claim that they are somehow "fake" or "going through a phase", when all that's happened is that visible signs are no longer quite so violently suppressed. Or dead of AIDS.

well, rebelling against parents nowadays in a unique fashion, is hard to do, our parents have already rebelled using so many facets available to them, listened to punk music, drugs/mdma/acid, fashion etc... one of the areas to rebel with , left untouched by previous generations, is gender.

> left untouched by previous generations, is gender

Stonewall was 1969; gender-fluidity, androgyny, "glam" etc were a big part of 70s and early 80s pop. I do agree that there's a big fight between second-wave feminists and trans people going on at the moment.

Not to mention before that with women wearing pants as the rebellion, suffragists and others - that was a rebellion against gender. You might say those were different as "not really a part of gender" but the past would vehemently disagree with you.

Look at photographs of secretly female soldiers - to the modern eye it is obvious enough to serve as documentation but then her comrades didn't know until after injury or death because they expected women in skirts and dresses not uniforms.

Perhaps modern life allows the issues to be explored honestly and openly, and that makes you uncomfortable.

Somebody with a psych background would probably inform you that autism spectrum disorder is a real mental disorder, and not people raising the victim flag.

That it’s a real disorder doesn’t mean that everyone who claims to have the disorder actually does, which is the meat of the comment you’re replying to, making your rebuttal a straw man

The comment makes a claim about a proportion of the "noise" around the issue, which implies that a large fraction of the discussion of mental health and mental disorders is from or about people with made up mental health issues. The claim is made with no evidence whatsoever. The whole thing is phrased as dismissive of people's claims about their own internal experiences, which is bullshit.

I think I understand why you feel that way.

For people with mental illness, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to hide their symptoms and appear "normal" in public. It's almost a prerequisite to be able to hold down a job or even go out in public without being ostracized. The original article refers to this as "masking".

What happens is as the underlying condition worsens, the victim simply expends more and more energy into hiding those symptoms. To outsiders, there is no perceptible change to the victim's behavior or condition. When the victim finally reaches the point of exhaustion, the collapse appears to come out of nowhere, or even to be faked.

Basically, the public expects to see a set of symptoms that are steady, or increase gradually over time. What you see in practice looks like normal, healthy behavior for months or years at a time, punctuated by dramatic breakdowns. (Or, in an effort to mask to the very end, the victim may abruptly disappear into hiding with or without notice until their symptoms are manageable again.)

If there's a TLDR for this, it's that, from the outside, mental illness looks very different from what you've been conditioned to expect, and it's not surprising that you interpret it as a form of hypochondria.

I think that it is ok to talk openly about difficulties and challenges one faces. Talking and analyzing helps with dealing with shit. It is uncomfortable to hear about difficulties of other people, but imo, adults should be able to cope what that.

Blaming moms for autistic kids is how it used to be done. It did not helped kids nor moms. Kids and moms being silent and accepting blame did nothing to solve their problems.

Why would someone "raising victim flag" bothered you?

Sure, people are playing Munchausen's by proxy with kids to get special treatment, and so are adults.

By percentage, of the people out there claiming ASD? Negligible. It's not a fun diagnosis. Nobody's going to play it up for fun. They'll pick something easier to fake and more rewarding, like cancer or allergies, maybe autoimmune.

Standard line treatment for ASD is "Good luck, I hope your life goes okay, I'm here if you want to talk about it".

Thanks for that. Wiki page is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factitious_disorder_imposed_on... and US clinical terminology follows:

In DSM-5, the diagnostic manual published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, this disorder is listed under 300.19 Factitious disorder. This, in turn, encompasses two types: Factitious disorder imposed on self – (formerly Munchausen syndrome). Factitious disorder imposed on another – (formerly Munchausen syndrome by proxy); diagnosis assigned to the perpetrator; the victim may be assigned an abuse diagnosis (e.g. child abuse).

That sounds like a very common empathy gap in the form of "it isn't a real problem until it affects me".

When your neighbors get laid off it is because they are lazy bums. When you get laid off it is a recession or mismanagement. It is easy to understand why it is so common - it is so much easier emotionally to pretend the world is just except when it would imply you are at fault.


Hi, clinically diagnosed here and while I can only speak for myself, the only time I've had an issue with someone who self-diagnosed was when they consistently brought up Problematic topics and played the "autistic, can't be offended" card.

My response to a self-diagnosed or clinically diagnosed person that was having a behavior problem would be the same, so why question? Why not just be kind and understanding?

Regular people have problems too. Maybe we could try to be more understanding towards all people so people don't feel the need to give their issues a special name so people will treat them kindly. Rather than trying to catch people in a lie, maybe just be nice to them either way.

That’s a bizarre reaction to the article. Is everyone who “successfully” (as in: other people do not know) masks any disability under suspicion for incorrect self-diagnosis, in your opinion?

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