Dealing with Adult Autism Can Make You Feel Like a Failure—How to Celebrate Who You Are

Life isn’t easy when you have autism. The neurotypical world is really not set up to support your needs. Since routine is very important for you, any disruption can become a serious problem.

Talking to people in social situations isn’t easy either. In fact, it may cause you a lot of stress. As a result, you might prefer to stay by yourself. At the same time, though, you feel isolated, alone, and misunderstood.

Because of these experiences, you may feel like a failure.

But that isn’t true! Having to deal with autism doesn’t make you worthless. The reality is that there are so many amazing things that make up who you are. Embrace them!

Here’s how to celebrate who you are if you are an adult living with autism.

Recognize What You Do Well

Yes, it can be hard navigating a neurotypical world. However, there are so many things that you do well. Everyone has something that they are good at.

For example, for someone with autism, that may include:

It’s so easy to focus on what you struggle with. However, don’t forget that there are many other things about yourself that are special and unique. Welcome and nurture them!

Take Pride in Your Accomplishments

This could be hard for you to do because you might not think that what you do is special or worth noting. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Think about when you got a job, for instance. That’s a big accomplishment because, like for many autistic adults, it is a major step towards independence and probably required you to face some situation that made you pretty uncomfortable (like interviews!).

Or maybe you were recognized for what you did at work. It might be hard and stressful being singled out by others for your accomplishments, but remember, it’s not supposed to be a punishment. Instead, it’s a good thing to be acknowledged for what you do well. And you can be proud of that!

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Taking pride in your accomplishments also includes a willingness to take risks. Of course, you likely have your routine, which helps you plan and get through each day. However, we can’t grow as individuals unless we step outside that comfort zone at times. This is true for everyone, including you.

Of course, what might be “safe” for someone else could be a risk for you. For example, changing your daily routine to go to a social event. Even if it’s with people who you recognize and with whom you’re feeling comfortable, socializing may still be stressful for you. And that’s okay. What’s important is that you are willing to go to the event and take that risk.

Embrace People Who Accept You

It helps to have people in your life who accept you for who you are—family members, coworkers, classmates, and friends. Sometimes we all need a reminder about how amazing, unique, and fun we really are.

When you find those people, stick with them. And don’t listen to those who try to put you down or who are negative and always seem to focus on shortcomings. They aren’t worth the effort being around, and it’s their loss for not recognizing how great you are.

But What If You Still Feel Like a Failure?

Sometimes you may need a little more help to celebrate who you are and to not feel like a failure. After all, autism can be very challenging to live with. And it may take some guidance to learn to cope.

That’s why it helps to know someone who understands what it means to be an adult living with autism. A therapist or counselor is just such a person. They can help you to navigate any particular issues your facing and teach you strategies to cope with things that may cause an upset in your routine.

Admittedly, adult autism does pose many challenges. However, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. There is plenty to celebrate about what makes you “you.” Following the above-mentioned tips can help. But if you are still struggling, talk to a counselor who specializes in adult autism. I invite you to contact us, 256-686-9195.

Author
Joshua Howell, MS, LPC, NCC, AADC, ICAADC, SAP, SAE

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