As autistics in an overwhelming neuro-typical word we often struggle with mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression (although often autistic people mistake autistic burnout for depression).
It’s important to know your normal, meaning that you may always have a base level of anxiety simply because you process sensory information differently to neuro-typical people, and this is sometimes difficult to control or avoid.
More importantly, however, is knowing that belonging to the autistic community, finding your group of weird (because everyone’s weird, you just have to find the right kind), can have protective properties for your self worth.
Below is the abstract from a study finding that embracing a positive autistic identity is very protective. At SYA? we hope that you can learn to love you autistic awesomeness.
“We investigated Autism social identity and mental health in autistic people. Autistic people have social and communication deﬁcits, and experience social stigma—factors that could interfere with the development of positive social identity. Indeed, autistic participants (N = 272) had signiﬁcantly lower personal self-esteem, and higher levels of depression and anxiety than typically developing controls (N = 267). Autism social identiﬁcation was positively associated with personal self-esteem, and this relationship was mediated by collective self-esteem (perceived positivity of Autism identity). Furthermore, there were signiﬁcant negative indirect effects between Autism identiﬁcation and anxiety, and between Autism identiﬁcation and depression, through increases in collective self-esteem and personal self-esteem.
Thus, while autistic participants reported poorer mental health than average, having a positive Autism social identity appeared to offer a protective mechanism. This implies that to improve mental health in the Autism population, clinical approaches should aim to facilitate development of positive Autism identities.”
Here is a toolkit to work out your normal.
Cooper, K., Smith, L. G., & Russell, A. (2017). Social identity, self‐esteem, and mental health in autism. European Journal of Social Psychology, 47(7), 844-854.
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