Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The strain of functioning

Sometimes I miss school because my body has to physically recuperate from an emotional event.

When I go shopping, I am sitting on the floor of the aisle after three or four stores. Dragging myself like a zombie instead of walking.

Sometimes I fall asleep at other people's houses.

Even socializing can wear me out. I crave it, but I just can't handle it. I get tired, crabby, pissy.

When I have a bad day at school, I go home and take a nap.

Sometimes I work myself up to a crescendo of exuberance and talkativeness and happiness and excitement, and then I crash.

Too much processing and reacting appropriately drains me. Wears me out. Exhausts me.

My body requires about twelve hours of sleep, although I never get that much. Ever. I think the reason I need so much sleep is because of the strain of functioning on my body and mental abilities. So I'm always tired.

When I get too exhausted, sometimes all I can do is scream and cry. Literally.

And that wears me out even more.

Functioning labels don't do much for me, and my friend Amy has expressed how she resents being labeled "low-functioning." But I don't know how else to say this. It takes a tremendous amount of effort for me to be "high-functioning." Sometimes all that processing and functioning takes its toll. And then I can't function at all.

This happens to people on other parts of the spectrum. Nonspeaking autistics or those who need lots of support, too. Just processing things and making sense of them can be a huge task.

Functioning my way is a strain. Functioning their way is a strain, too.

I meant to spend the weekend recuperating from the last two weeks, which have been emotionally and physically exhausting. That didn't happen. I was out and about all weekend. If I keep going like this, I'm going to crash.

Do you wonder why I miss so much school? Do you wonder why I scream and cry instead of just telling you what's wrong? Do you think it's odd that just being happy with people can suddenly wear me out? Do you think I don't look autistic? Do you know how hard it is on my body, just to be me? Just to function every day?


  1. Kitt - my little boy (who has a HFA dx) is almost six and just started school. I see the toll that "functioning" all day takes on him and find it hard when others don't see it, its a bind - he is "doing well" but I don' think he gets recognition from other parents/teachers etc for just how much extra work this is for him compared to his peers and why "the wheels fall off" towards the end of the day and he struggles with "small things"

    1. Yup, there's a boy at my school who will fall apart at the end of the day after what seemed like a great day, because the effort of doing well took too much out of him.

      Down time is needed badly at the end of a long day. All sorts of emotion can wear us out and drain our reserves of mental, emotional and physical energy and abilities. Feel free to print this blog and this comment and show it to them at school.

      Karla's ASD Page on Facebook also has a lot of wonderful charts backed up by scientific information and personal experience that explain things like exhaustion, sensory processing and stimming. Post on her wall or inbox her and ask for the information you need. She's very research-based, and is good about interacting with fans and replying to posts.

      Thanks for your comment! Feedback is always appreciated.

  2. Wow... It is as if you're describing me, and it's both creepy and comforting at the same time.
    I've began at a youth meeting thing on Mondays, it starts at four PM and sometimes goes on as long as to ten. Last week I was there until ten, and the rest of the week I couldn't do any of the things I had planned. This week I went home at 8.30, but I still couldn't do what I had planned for Tuesday: I slept eleven hours in the night, was up for about three hours, then slept five more hours with no problem. I've had this problem more or less my whole life.
    I've also been tested for autism/Asperger's, but they dismissed it on the grounds that I was too good at holding eye contact and generally responding to body language. I've also had a kind of anger issues... If something is 'wrong' or 'out of place' or things don't go as planned I've thrown a good old-fashioned tantrum, getting really upset and feeling... out of place. I'm now on anti-depressants of some kind to stop that from happening, but it still rears its ugly head from time to time.
    Sorry, I'm rambling, but I'm relieved to find someone having the same problems and being able to explain it so perfectly. I want to socialise, I want to go to school, but damn, it's tiring!

    1. You do sound autistic to me. I'm glad you connected with my piece.

  3. Wow...just ever-loving wow....

    This is me. My husband and I have been struggling with this. Since my son was diagnosed, I have given my all to giving him the best tools I possibly can--from myself as a parent, advocate, community worker, mental health professional, to getting him in a wonderful full-service program that respects my son and gives him everything he could possibly need educationally.

    It makes me tired. Thinking ahead makes me tired. Having to socialize so much, makes me tired.

    My husband thinks I nap because I am lazy.

    It is not.

    I nap because I can't take anymore.

    Because daydreaming or reading and getting tired give me a sense of relief from having to put on airs all day. To overextending my "self" all day.



    New fan.

  4. Another new fan here, step mum to a little boy who has autism. Really glad I stumbled upon your blog! A big thanks to Autism Daddy :)

  5. Another fan as well, as you so well put into words much of my life. I'm sorry any of us have to live like this. I'm even more sorry that much of the outside world cannot, and will not, see anything they don't understand. As though their perspective/view/experience of the universe is the only one that is valid. Sad for us, sad for them. Just sad.