What’s spoons got to do with it?

colorful reflection plastic spoons

Spoon theory is a metaphor used by people with chronic illness and / or neurodivergence. Spoon theory suggests that:

* A person has roughly the same amount of energy each day – each unit of energy is represented by a spoon. This amount may be changed by previous activity or inactivity and can be changed by flare ups in fibromyalgia for example.

* Healthy and neurotypical people have more spoons (energy) than those with an illness that causes chronic fatigue.

* Some activities cost more spoons than others.

* A person with a fatiguing and painful chronic illness needs to make decisions about which activities to spend their limited number of spoons on – limiting the things they may be able to do each day.

* The chronic illness means that if the person does too much in the morning, they may not have enough spoons left for the afternoon or evening.

*They may seem inconsistent because their energy levels and number of spoons fluctuate.

Spoon theory is used in the Autistic community as many Autistic people also have Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, M.E and other conditions which cause chronic pain and fatigue.

Spoon theory also helps explain our social and emotional hangovers, inattentiveness and executive dysfunction. As well as the typical mental health conditions that we often have caused by inaccessible services and ableism in wider society.

Spoonies start with different amounts of spoons every day and activity outputs will be different from person to person. The picture below may give an idea of how much daily activities cost for Autistic people and people with chronic fatigue and pain.

[Image description: a purple, pink and blue poster titled:
Dealing with every day tasks as a chronic illness warrior.
It shows different activities and how many spoons they may cost to do:
1 spoon = getting out of bed, making a dr appointment and getting dressed.
2 spoons = taking a shower, managing meds, making dinner.
3 spoons = doctor visit, walk pet, socialise.
4 spoons = grocery shopping, going to work / school.
At the bottom it says #EmpoweredSpoonies] Picture by Chronic Illness Advocates.

4 responses to “What’s spoons got to do with it?”

  1. […] Personally, I like to have a similar routine every week so I know what my expectations are on any given day. It also makes organising for it a lot easier and less stressful. I am completely reliant on my diary and find it difficult to do more than one or two organised things a day (see What’s Spoons got to do with it?). […]

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