But how we respond to such events makes all the difference in our happiness, mental health, and wellbeing. Bouncing back is a skill that is critically important for all humans, and even more vital for those who live with autism.
Autism by its very nature imposes factors that impede the development of resilience. Differences in thinking, communication and significant anxiety are just a few barriers to the acquisition of resilience. But perhaps more damaging are the attitudes and actions of non autistic individuals that can sabotage the growth resilience of individuals with autism. As parents and educators, we hold an enormous amount of responsibility to do what we can to help youth with autism to grow their ‘resilience muscles’ over time so that they can navigate the non autistic world and be more confident in the face of adversity and change.
The bad news is that failing to do so leaves our kids massively vulnerable emotionally, physically and psychologically. Research has made it clear that children on the autism spectrum experience more adversity and more mental health challenges than their non-autistic peers. Without the deliberate development of the protective factors of resilience the price they pay even into adulthood is far too high: wasted potential and exponentially increasing degrees of debilitating anxiety and poor mental and physical health.
The great news is that we can make a massive difference by capitalizing on opportunities to explicitly teach our kids with autism how to build their resilience muscles. At the same time, we can remediate the ways that we may unintentionally be sabotaging the growth of resilience.
No doubt we want to raise and/or educate a child who will grow into a self -confident adult with autism who is comfortable in themselves, willing to take on new activities, and challenges, and live to the highest degree of autonomy and independence as possible. Genuine resilience is one of the most potent skills we can teach those we love.
OUTCOMES The learner will be able to:
- Appreciate why resilience is of critical importance as protective skill to be developed in youth with autism.
- Clarify what resilience is and what it is not.
- Identify the factors that impede the development of resilience in individuals with autism.
- Recognize and remediate the attitudes and actions of non autistic individuals that can sabotage the growth resilience of individuals with autism.
- Implement specific strategies and model mindsets to teach resilience within natural life events both at home and at school.