Building self confidence in children with autism
What is self-confidence? It means to have trust in yourself. This trust is vital for a positive and healthy outlook in life.
Self-confidence helps us face the world and its many challenges with ease. For children with autism having self-confidence is important and aids in their growth and development.
However, due to autism, they may not always feel good about themselves and loose self-esteem. This may cause them to have a negative self-image which further hampers their wellbeing and happiness.
Small success in everyday life and tasks can help children gain confidence in their own abilities. This confidence keeps them motivating for trying new things and facing challenges.
Here are some ideas to help children with autism gain confidence and increase their self-esteem.
– Identify the areas of strength of the child. Understand what the child is good at and enjoys doing. It could be any activity, sports, games, computer, coloring, dancing, humming, and doodling. Make a note of these things to get an idea about the child’s abilities. Notice how the child behaves around other children. This will help you understand what the child enjoys doing in company of other kids.
– Understand what the child is able to do on his or her own or with others. What is it the child is good at, playing team sports, chatting, running etc. Notice what instructions are easily understood by the child. Children tend to follow instructions better when they are doing things that interest them.
“When children work in areas of their strengths, or at tasks they like, they are naturally more successful at it. This success builds confidence, which in turn will encourage them to try non-preferred tasks. The focus should always be on strengths and abilities, rather than on disabilities”, says Padma Shastry, Founder-Director Samam Vidya
– Once you know the interests of the child, you can engage them in the activities and help them improve. Every time the child does something, praise him or her for the effort. Being appreciated is a great confidence boost and provides the motivation for repeated behavior.
– Tell social stories to the children with themes that help them understand how the world works. Information is power and when children understand stuff they feel confident.
– Involve them in activities and chores at home. Ask them to arrange the cupboard, water the plants or such simple tasks. The act of completing a task is a confidence booster.
– Children with autism may not be able to express their feelings openly. Their shyness should not be misunderstood as low confidence and they should be given the opportunity to showcase their potential.
People with autism have good confidence but due to the environment and people who are unable to understand their sensory needs it is seen as they have low confidence. – Radha Ramesh, Director, Vidya Sagar School.
– Enrolling the child into extra-curricular activities such as drama classes, music classes, swimming sessions etc. can also improve their social skills and self-esteem. Being a part of a group activity is not only fun, it is a great way to learn about own potential.
– Spend quality time with the child as a family. Going out or staying indoors with relatives, interacting with them can help the child feel connected and supported. The feeling of being a part of the family helps improve confidence in the child. It is important the child is accepted and not made to feel isolated.
– Avoid scolding or criticizing the children for mistakes they make. Explain to them how things can be done in a better way.