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  • Steven Robinson
    Steven Robinson

    Self-Care for Autistic Individuals

    Self-care is an essential concept that unfortunately receives little attention in many lives. It can be especially challenging for those with autism, yet if we can reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and create a healthier relationship to our own bodies, it can make a world of difference. Taking responsibility for our wellness and managing our mental health proactively can benefit the growth, creativity, and communication of autistic individuals.

    Autism, which can present its own unique set of obstacles, affects an estimated 1 out of 59 people in the United States. Often, it can be any combination of difficulty with communication, sensory processing, sensory regulation, and social interaction. Even everyday activities such as grocery shopping, visiting the dentist, or going to the movies can be overwhelming.

    For this reason, self-care is particularly important. Here are some of the best methods that can drop stress levels and improve overall well-being of an autistic individual.

    Prioritize Pleasure

    Doing what we enjoy is one of the best methods for improving our well-being. For example, yoga, dance, meditation, and coloring can be calming activities for an autistic person. Furthermore, it's paramount to find something that feels meaningful and fulfills desires. It could be as simple as taking a walk on a regular basis, cooking a favorite food, or cuddling with a pet.

    Create Routines

    Early mornings, late nights, and open-ended weekends can all lead to a stressed state of being if they don't provide a solid routine. One of the best practices for minimizing stress is having rules, even small ones. Scheduling meals, bedtimes, certain activities, computer time, etc., can help filled up the day. If it's structured, it's less stressful. take into account transitions such as entering a new room or activity, as these can present difficulties for some on the autism spectrum.


    Journaling can be an extremely impactful tool for an autistic individual. It can be as extensive or concise as desired, whether it's just a few lines per day or lengthy reflection sessions. It can become a way to observe yourself objectively, recognize patterns, and identify feelings for further understanding of oneself. Writing down experiences can also emphasize positive affirmations, gratitude, and insights.

    Find Support Systems

    When feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it helps to reach out to family members, friends, and/or therapy. Having these people to talk to — and lend an ear — can be a huge support when going through tough times. support groups within the autism community exist in virtually every city, both online and offline. Connecting with likeminded people can be encouraging and informative.

    Take Timeouts

    Meeting demands daily, whether at work, home, and school, can be a challenge in itself. Experiencing sensory overload can occur when too much stimulation is present, especially if a space is crowded, loud, and/or has new smells and textures. Being able to recognize when a timeout is needed and giving oneself permission to take it can be immensely calming and restorative.

    While everyone has their own version of self-care, these five practices can help cultivate resilience when it comes to autistic individuals. Activating a sense of freedom and creating space for joy in life has the potential to reduce stress and increase contentment.

    When done right, self-care can reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and strengthen relationships along the way. Investing time and effort into self-care can transform lives and give someone on the autism spectrum the ability to become their own source of strength.

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