This is me, in autistic shutdown. (I wrote about my ASD/Aspie-ness here, if you’re interested.)

We’ve just moved house. And I’m delighted with it. And so very glad to be back on acreage, amongst the trees and sweet dew-laden grass.

Still, it’s change. And change is hard. Especially for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Highly Sensitive Peeps (HSP).

I keep it together leading up to it and through it. Then after, when there’s the smallest amount of breathing space, I shut down.

What does shutting down look like?

In my case, it’s like a computer powering down. My brain goes in standby mode to try and process everything that’s happened. I find verbal conversation difficult. I am quiet, and find it hard to speak. I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to listen.

(Having said that, I can mask for short periods and appear like a perfectly normal, cheerful person.)

I alternate between feeling numb, overwhelmed, cranky and emotional. My fuse goes from fairly long to fairly short.

I become sensitive to light and noise and smells (more so than usual). For example: I spend most of my days currently not speaking. I’ve got a headache from the sunlight. I ran out of my usual doTERRA handwash, and had to buy another brand while I was waiting for it to arrive. The other brand’s smell made me super uncomfortable in my body.

I am more prone to “stimming” behaviours – my favourites are leg jiggling, nail flicking and rocking gently in bed. If noise sensitivity becomes more of an issue, I will have a strong urge to flap my hands over my ears.

My system has had too much stimulus already, and doesn’t want anymore until it can process what it has already experienced.

I just want to ride out the shutdown and let my body do its thing until it has regulated and is okay again.

Things that help me in shutdown:

  • weighted blankets
  • essential oils
  • time in bed
  • as much home time as humanly possible
  • scrolling on my phone {I like that it’s a world only I can see}
  • reading a novel {requires slightly more cognitive power than I have sometimes}
  • nature {just looking at the sky and trees and ocean is good medicine}
  • dark rooms
  • long baths
  • showers in the dark
  • wearing sunglasses {and sometimes a hat} when I’m out to slightly reduce stimulus
  • writing lists to help the overwhelm
  • creativity + doodling + writing {anything that helps get OUT all the stimulus that has come IN}
  • cancel appointments – the more on my calendar, the worse I feel
  • reduce social outings {as much as I love people + have a great time, I don’t have the bandwidth for it}
  • asking my husband for advice on priorities and reducing my overwhelm. He is sage and good counsel.

What works for ASD and HSP peeps is highly unique. What works for me may not work for others.

Hope this is helpful in any way – whether you or your loved ones are HSP or ASD. And just so you know – no matter what you are – you are 100% allowed to do exactly what you need to take care of yourself.

Off to continue my Operation Self-Regulation project!