“Why don’t I fit in?”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“Why won’t people be friends with me?”
These are all common questions I hear from teenage clients on the Autism Disorder Spectrum. Self-esteem issues and difficulties establishing friendships are all common issues for those who are on the spectrum.
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder tend to see the world differently and act differently, often leading them to be a target for bullying or criticism. An unwillingness of other teenagers to make allowances for their social mistakes can lead them to be socially isolated.
All of this can really bring down the confidence of someone on the spectrum. They may begin to tell themselves that their way of seeing the world and doing things is wrong. They may begin to believe that there IS something wrong with them.
To parents or loved ones of those on the spectrum, here are a few tips for improving their confidence:
- Reinforce their positive qualities and encourage them to foster their strengths.
- Encourage them to be involved in activities they are interested and talented at.
- Be kind and patient with them- they are probably not being kind or patient with themselves.
- Show them unconditional love and acceptance. It is important for them to know they are loved and valued by you
If you are on the spectrum, here are some tips for improving confidence:
- Focus on appreciating your positive qualities. Think of qualities of yourself that you are proud of, you have received compliments for or are valued by others
- Don’t give up on making friends; don’t retreat or isolate yourself. Doing so can make you feel more depressed or unappreciated. Consider joining an ASD support group with people who understand.
- Consider taking small steps into a hobby or interest that can provide a way to connect with others in a safe environment where your interests are shared with others, and can be appreciated.
If you or your loved ones with ASD are struggling with self-esteem, the psychologists at the Centre for Effective Living understand the unique challenges of those on the spectrum. Speaking with a trained professional can help with improving self-esteem, along other difficulties such as anxiety and depression.