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Recognising Social Exhaustion

One social event can cause weeks or months of suffering and pain to an autistic person.

For many autistic individuals, stress related to social activities often begins when they become aware that they have a social event coming up soon. This can happen even when the social event is weeks or months away.

Before a social event, the brain can become intensely focused on what might happen and all the various possibilities, all the ways in which a question could be asked, how questions should be answered, what topics of conversation are appropriate, what topics should be avoided, what should be worn etc. The questions and therefore ruminations can be endless, often feeling all-consuming.

At the actual event, people can experience symptoms of severe anxiety/panic, including shaking, sweating, foggy thinking, and heart palpitations. There is often so much to think about and work out, such as understanding social cues, working out how, why and when to respond, focusing on not interrupting, on not being too quiet, on not saying "the wrong thing", trying to regulate eye contact, etc. Simultaneously, the person will often feel bombarded with sensory stimuli, which further impedes their ability to concentrate.

Following the event (post-event “comedown"/social hangover), it may take days or weeks to recover from the mental and physical exhaustion, retrospection, rumination, feelings of confusion and emptiness.

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For further information please contact us on: Telephone: 01227 656953  Email: info@autismkent.co.uk.