Conversations That Build Self Worth for Your Child With Autism

Peace at Home March 7, 2023 | Aaron Weintraub, Stephanie Rondeau,

We speak to our children all day, every day, and the words we use are of paramount importance. When a child has autism, a few select word and language choices can make all the difference in helping them build positive self esteem and self worth. When it comes to choosing words, sometimes the simplest language can have the strongest impact. 

One of the most powerful words we can use when talking to our children, surprisingly, is “and.” These three letters can transform a statement from critical to empowering, which is exactly what our children need as they are developing their own sense of self and self acceptance. 

“I can be upset about this and still love you.”

“You can have autism and develop strategies to help yourself.”

“You can have a diagnosis and strengths and positives can emerge from it.”

This one word transforms each of these sentences into an opportunity for the child to discover strengths and positive attributes about themself, even if they are going through something that they may perceive as negative.

Modeling this language and perspective can be incredibly helpful for our kids to develop these patterns in their own thought processes. Finding the power and strength in a diagnosis can be a difficult thing, but when children are able to mirror this type of thinking in their own language, it can help them develop a sense of ownership and pride about themselves and their abilities. 

But what about when it’s time to have bigger conversations, or when your child is having a hard time with their diagnosis? 

There are other practical strategies you can use in speaking to your child with autism that can help them develop stronger self esteem and self worth: 

  • Celebrate their strengths. Some people have brains that are great at puzzles or math while art and language may come easier to others. Talk to your child about things that are easier for them that may be more difficult for other people in order to help them recognize their specific strengths. 
  • Acknowledge their difficulties. At the same time, some things may be more difficult for your child, and that’s okay. Let them know that you’re there for them when they face challenges, and that you’re open to learning how they want to be supported. 
  • Be honest and straightforward about their diagnosis, and help them or encourage them to seek out information from other people with autism. This may help them understand their strengths and discover ways to overcome challenges. 

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