If you’re the parent of a teen with autism, it’s no surprise to you that individuals with autism struggle socially. Teens with autism tend to keep to themselves, usually have unique mannerisms, and struggle with social interaction–this makes them a prime target for bullying and exclusion. That’s why self esteem in autistic teens needs a high level of attention.
Autistic teens’ particular challenges require parents to provide special care to certain areas that parents of “typical” children don’t have to focus on as much. While self esteem is always important in teens, those with autism demand greater help.
How to inspire self esteem in autistic teens
While self esteem in autistic teens may be a troubled area, it’s not impossible to form. But here’s the tricky part: you can’t force your autistic child to work on their social skills.
Going to therapy can only do so much–if your teen doesn’t feel like they need to change anything, they won’t. And forcing them to work harder on making friends and interacting with others will often be met with rebellion and will decrease their self-esteem even further.
Here are some tips on how to inspire self esteem in autistic teens:
- Deficits vs personality traits. While your teen may have several issues in social interaction–they may also veer away from the “typical” in perfectly normal ways. It’s not wrong to be interested in an unusual topic, have a strange sense of humor, or prefer to stay in instead of going to a party. It’s important for you to discern between behaviors deriving from personality vs behaviors deriving from deficits.
- Try to reel in your frustrations. I know it can be frustrating to see your child has a problem making friends and them not even recognize it–but it may not be obvious to them yet. Now, you can breach the topic by asking them if they’ve talked to anyone new or made any friends at school, but when the answer isn’t what you hope for, try not to get angry. That will only make them feel like they’re not enough, which worsens self esteem in autistic teens.
- Give them resources. Most teens with autism think in very strict, logical ways. Your child may have come to the conclusion that it’s impossible for them to make friends. To prove this wrong, maybe give them an example of someone with autism having close friendships and then ask them if they’d like some resources that could help them develop better social skills.
- Be patient, acknowledge small victories. It takes time and practice to improve social skills. It can feel like you’re moving at a snail’s pace–but it’s important to recognize small victories and stay positive. Let’s say you go out for dinner and your teen greets the hostess at the front–that may seem like nothing, but if they’ve never done that before, it’s important to acknowledge with praise.
Overall, all you can do is provide love, support, and opportunities for your child to move forward. This combination of factors creates a perfect environment for developing self esteem in autistic teens.
If your child is really struggling with self esteem or other areas, it’s critical to reach out to a professional for further guidance.
Seven Stars is here for your family
Seven Stars is a program that treats teens with neurodevelopmental disorders. We combine residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.
We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, social skills, academic skills, self-efficacy, and prosocial behaviors. At Seven Stars, we strive to help our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.
For more information about how we improve self esteem in autistic teens at Seven Stars, contact us today at 844-601-1167
Since 2003, Dr. Gordon Day has passionately helped young people with a wide range of family, emotional, social, neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. Gordon’s mission has been to help people find their strengths and their own passion for living a full and rewarding life. He is particularly sensitive to the pressures, frustrations and disappointments that adolescents face that can sometimes cause them and their loved ones to want to withdraw and throw their hands up in despair.
Dr. Day knows that you really have to understand where a student is coming from and understand their patterns of strengths and needs. When we truly know an individual and their struggles, only then can we truly help.
Dr. Day has pioneered the use of outdoor therapy activities and outdoor living as a dynamic and effective therapeutic tool for learning, confidence building and skill building. His programs provide effective, supportive and encouraging environments that help students find their strengths and power.