Many times the labels or preconceived notions that come with an autism diagnosis can make teens feel different or judged. Having a strong sense of self-esteem can help remind teens that they are their own person and that having autism is not the single thing that defines them. Confident teens are also better able to cope when things go wrong and are less likely to be afraid of new or challenging situations.
How to Help
- Focus on Strengths: If you find that many of your conversations with your teen revolve around things they’re working to improve, take some time to think to also discuss your teen’s strengths. Maybe they are great at helping around the house or they have excelled in a particular class at school. Communicate to them where you’ve seen them succeed and ask them to identify their own strengths. The practice of acknowledging those strengths can have a positive impact on your teen’s self-esteem as they begin to shift their focus from what they need to improve to what they are doing well.
- Create Opportunities for Success: If you know that certain situations will lead to your teen feeling overwhelmed or left behind their peers, find the opportunities to set them up for success. If they’re interested in joining an after school club, find one that caters to their interests, but also has staff and participants who understand your teen’s needs. When teens experience personal success it makes them more confident to try new things in the future because they have already had that positive experience.
- Practice: Not every new experience is going to be a success, but this is where you can practice with your teen. Remind them that a setback does not mean failure. Mistakes are challenging for many teens with autism, but they’re also an important part of learning. If your teen is going to give a presentation at school, help them practice their speech at home. You can help them prepare for what to do if they forget a word or what they can do if something distracting happens in the classroom. This is also a great time to use social stories if your teen responds well to those. Teens practice and read a narrative around their successes as a reminder of the strengths that they possess.
- Positive Reinforcement: Help notify your teen when things are going well. Offer praise and have them reflect on how it feels when they have succeeded. You can offer them positive reinforcement even for small things around the house like behavioral or hygiene goals. Whatever their goals are, teens build self-esteem when they are reminded that they can achieve those goals.
New Focus Academy Can Help
At New Focus Academy, we know each student comes to us with a unique mind, background, skill set, and personal experience. Our team works with your family and child to find the specific evidence-based approaches that will help to build confidence, social growth, and motivation to become productive and self-sufficient.
Too often a child’s diagnoses & limitations are the defining factors of identity. We base our treatment on the groundbreaking concepts of Positive Psychology. We highlight each student’s strengths and use them to create a plan based on building confidence and motivation for personal growth. For more information please call (435) 850-4327.