Autistic Shutdowns: Believe I’ll Ch-Ch-Change My Shirt – Podcast s1e7-B

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Hi! I’m Johnny Profane.

Meltdowns. Shutdowns. Burnouts.

To the public… schools… employers… even family…

They can be the defining autistic behavior.

Things to fight. Control…


Why do “they” do that? What’s going through “their” heads…?

What do they feel like…?

Even if you’re autistic… you may not have answers.

If you love one… parent one… work with some… or wonder if you are one…

I use one of my Spoken Songs to bring you inside my burnouts.

Autistic As Fuck Out Loud…. Bonus Episode 7… “Autistic Shutdowns: Believe I’ll Ch-Ch-Change My Shirt.”

Real talk. Real tough.

But I hope you’ll find some truth here. That you may want to share… with someone you know… who cares.


Autistic Shutdowns: Believe I’ll Ch-Ch-Change My Shirt – A Spoken Song

“Well, we all have meltdowns, don’t we, sweetie…?”

The sound of my jaw grinding teeth…

Ummmmm… Actually…?


My Meltdowns, Shutdowns, Burnouts, Decompensations…?

These are not passing “moods”…

They define my life.

A meltdown happens fast. And is over pretty fast.

In a child or adult autist… it’s not a temper tantrum. It’s not a manipulative rage… or a drama-queen maneuver.

It’s a defense. Against sensory, physical, mental, or emotional overload. Sometimes… all these at once. Could be…

  • Too many disturbing things happening at the same time. Or for too long…
    • Say, bright lights.
    • Loud music.
    • Restricted movement.
    • Many people crowded together.
    • Many temptations.
    • Like at a shopping mall… or dance club.
    • Too many stimulants at once…

OR… it could be…

  • ONE, single, overwhelming event. Death of a pet… or a blowout domestic argument. Child, teen, adult. In some ways, it doesn’t matter. There’s an immediate, unexpected outburst. Could be tears. Screaming. Pleading. Banging head. Or mebbe… Fist through wall.

And when I say “unexpected” outburst… I mean… like, when I’m just as surprised as anyone else there’s a madman in the room waving his arms… loudly.

Altho in my case, many times I partially… or completely… lose my ability to speak. What they call selective mutism.

A shutdown?

May… or may not… be preceded by a meltdown. It’s not a response to over stimulation… at least, not exactly. It’s more like exhaustion. Building over time.

The mind, heart, body… or all three… are depleted. There’s nothing left to give…

To me? It’s like a meteor crashes into my space capsule.

I survive. But… It takes out the main power. I go into emergency shutdown. One control center after another automatically starts to power down. In my brain.

To you? Mebbe you see…

  • Fatigue, exhaustion… Walking? It’s too much effort, ‘cept mebbe to the bathroom.
  • Mental fog & forgetfulness… sorta like sleep deprivation.
  • Too much time in bed… sometimes entire days.
  • Emotional numbness… nothing matters, nothing gets a response.
  • Isolation… refusing to see family or friends.
  • Zero interest in work or pastimes… no matter how deep the passion was. Last week.
  • Depression…

It may creep up over time. Or it might look like a high-speed, head-on crash.

Usually? It lasts at least hours. Sometimes a few days.

And then, there’s burnout.


Intense physical, mental & emotional exhaustion. Lasting weeks, months, years…

Many times, I lose skills. Could be related to what professionals label “regression” in autistic 2-year-olds… who suddenly stop walking… or talking. Under stress.

But I lose well-established, vital, adult skills…

Like musician me, days before a gig, sitting on a stool, hugging my guitar of ten years…

Not quite remembering how to play.

Or organized, minimalist me… surrounded by piles of cardboard chaos… with tidy little paths to the fridge, toilet… mebbe the fire exit…

That’s the autistic truth I’d like you to share with me.

To feel it…

If you are a parent of an autist… a friend… employer… educator… therapist…

When an autistic person stammers at you…

“I don’t… um… f-f-function… very well…”

This, this is what he, she, or ey feels…

This… is my experience.

Believe I’ll Ch-Ch-Change My Shirt

To a Marvin Gaye Soul Beat

Sunlight cracks my window,
Gotta be midday.
Kick myself a pathway
Just to pee into the bowl.

Like a peek into that deepest hole,
Zombie in the Mirror won’t let me look away —
Same filthy shirt as yesterday,
Body and soul.

I. Gotta. Change.
Man, I gotta ch-ch-change.
New day’s a-coming.
Cuz that same old,
It’s getting fucking old.
Gonna shed that old skin
For one of truest gold…
I. Gotta. Change.
Believe I’ll ch-ch-change

Karma’s a bitch dog, in heat.
She prowls thru my old mind,
Sleeps beside me every night…
Feasting on defeats.

No stone blocks this empty tomb
But I can’t leave her behind…
Memories of the darkest kind
Blind my way outta this room.

T H A T change I can not make —
Faced all the strange
This heart can take…

Chorus 2
I. Gotta. Change.
Man, I gotta ch-ch-change.
I gotta change…
I gotta change…
I gotta change…
I. Gotta. Change.
Believe I’ll ch-ch-change

I believe, I believe, I’ll go back home.
I believe, I believe, I’ll go back home.
You can mistreat me here, babe,
But you can’t when I get home…
Can’t see the forest
For the leaves,
The years,
For the tears.
That’s what’s brought me
To my knees.
Saving for rainy days
Ain’t never gonna happen.
Wind from one hand clappin…
Storms in every May Day,
Still pouring
Next April Fool’s Day…

I. Gotta. Change.
Man, I gotta ch-ch-change.
New day’s a-coming.
Cuz that same old,
It’s getting fucking old.
Gonna shed that old skin
For one of truest gold…
I. Gotta. Change.
Believe I’ll ch-ch-change

Massive shoutout to artists I stole quotes from… David Jones, known to the world as David Bowie for “Changes,” that he released in 1972. And to blues genius Robert Johnson for “Dust My Broom,” released in 1937. And always to Marvin Gaye, for his soul.

Shoutouts & Outro!

I gotta ask…

Are you one of my many readers & listeners wondering if you are autistic…

Or maybe… self-diagnosed… but can’t shake the feeling you still don’t know?

Episode 8… “How to Get Diagnosed #ActuallyAutistic… in Just 26 Years” coming at ya next.

Quick personal note…

I need a little support with expenses for my work. Soon, a few bonus features… like my paintings and bonus episodes like this one… will be available for paid subscribers & contributors.

But with your support… I promise my informative autism material will always remain free.

Wanna know more? Check out my posts, paintings, poems, music, and politics at

And… If you enjoyed this episode… please share it on social media? Better yet, send it directly to a friend.

Designing My Home Around Adult Autism: Pt. 2 – 7 Survival Principles #AutisticAF Out Loud

  1. Designing My Home Around Adult Autism: Pt. 2 – 7 Survival Principles
  2. Designing My Home Around Autism: Pt. 1 – Making It Work for Me
  3. Inside Autism & Eye Contact: How It Feels… How to Deal with the Terror s2e6
  4. Fanning the Flames: #AutisticJoy in the Classroom – Intersectional Infinity Conference s02e05
  5. Selective Mutism: I Have No Mouth. But I Must SCREAM… s2e4
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