- After setting a goal, keep your mind, body and spirit focused on what is happening right now.
Goals are good to have, and staying focused in the present is how goals are achieved. When we focus on what is happening right now, we do better and feel happier. Feeling happy is the key to success. Happiness allows us to think more creatively, open our minds, and find solutions. Happiness also increases our resilience to stress. One step at a time we reach our goals.
- Learn to relax
Meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, taking deep breaths, drawing, reading, etc. are all great ways to cope with upsetting situations. (How do you relax? Please share your strategies!) Autistic people live in a world that either overstimulates or underwhelms them. Knowing a way to relax is a necessity.
- Try many things
It is important to try out different things. Provide opportunities to try different foods, textures, sounds, tactics, and activities. Each experience teaches us something. We learn more about ourselves, what we like and don’t like. We learn to make mistakes and grow. As we learn, optimism increases and perfectionism decreases. It may be difficult to keep trying, but the result is well worth the attempts.
- Treat yourself well
As we encounter things that are difficult, we learn and grow. Encourage yourself with every improvement no matter how small. Be aware of challenges and focus on the next step. Tell yourself how lucky you are to be you, especially when you make a “mistake.” Positive self talk is a great way to be kind to yourself. (What do you say to yourself to help with challenges? Please share.)
- Show compassion.
Just as you are showing compassion to yourself, remember to be kind to others. Social connections are one of the most important predictors of health and happiness. People who are liked are more successful. This may seem problematic for people with ASD, since social connections are a challenge. However, showing compassion is doable for those with ASD. This may be refraining from telling all the reasons a person is wrong, or simply saying good luck, even when you don’t believe in luck. It is also up to those of us who are neurotypicals to meet Aspie’s and autistic’s halfway, and recognize the different ways kindness is being shown.
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help creating positive strategies? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.
Emma M. Seppälä PhD.