MAY 16, 2022
5 Tips for Helping Autistic Teens and Adults Manage Stress
Helpful and fun ideas for helping teens and adults with autism to manage stress and regulate emotions.
Autism Stress Management
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological disorder that affects people developmentally. Autism can affect how people interact with others, how they communicate, regulate their emotions, and learn.
When an autistic person, or a person who is on the autism spectrum, is in a situation where their stress becomes too much to handle it can be hard for them to regulate their emotions.
Being a teen or adult with autism comes with different challenges than those who are diagnosed as children. Some of these challenges include difficulties with social rules and cues such as reading and understanding body language and a tendency to take things literally. This can lead to difficulty communicating with those around them, and feelings of anxiousness, depression, anger, hopelessness, or even nervousness. Other signs that they are struggling are lack of enjoyment in things they previously loved, thoughts of suicide, and more difficulty sleeping due to an overactive mind.
It is always a good idea to seek out help to support yourself or someone you love who has autism. When experiencing challenges like anxiety, social isolation, job difficulties, and even relationship issues, cognitive, verbal, and other forms of behavioral therapy can be helpful.
We have compiled a list of helpful ideas to assist those who struggle with autism or find themselves on the spectrum of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
1. Help Engage in Hobbies
Autistic people are very creative and great out-of-the-box thinkers. Finding hobbies for them to engage in that spark these creative juices will help to manage stress. Allow them to explore what is fun and engaging to them.
Hobbies help people relax and achieve a sense of fulfillment. They have been shown to provide lower levels of stress, better physical and mental health, improved sleep, and better social connections.
Get outside. Walking, hiking, rock climbing, and being physically active are just some of the ways to regulate emotions and process feelings of being overwhelmed.
Volunteering at an animal shelter or working with animals provides a sense of achievement and community. This also enables people to engage with lots of tactile experiences.
Wearing the right clothing while participating in hobbies can help to keep sensory overload to a minimum. Socks for hiking, walking, and running that don't have seams provide less irritation for sensitive feet. SmartKnit socks are truly seamless, allowing you to move freely.
2. Let Them Make Decisions
A loss of control over one's surroundings can trigger overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Sometimes loss of control is a trigger of stress. Returning some control, even small things can help alleviate that stress. Choosing what to eat for dinner, what to watch on TV, when to complete household chores, and what to do on a Saturday afternoon, are all things that will help give back some lost control.
Letting a person choose the surroundings in their home can make them feel more comfortable and in control. Designing a space that will better support someone with autism is not only enjoyable but will lead to a more successful day-to-day routine.
Having systems in place and routines that are simple and achievable will ensure they feel more at ease. Creating spaces in their home where things are easily accessible and in sight will help to keep routines achievable.
Encouragement of participating in activities that allows an individual to safely process their emotions and being among those they trust will help them feel more confident. Getting involved in your local community, church, or recreation center are great places to start. Joining a social or support group in your area can help your loved one to connect and be a part of a community that is like them.
4. Engage with Their Emotions
Holding back on one’s emotions may greatly contribute to stress. Helping and encouraging your loved one to talk about their emotions can help manage these feelings.
People with autism experience the full range of human emotions in a very deep and sometimes intense way. Journaling, using pictures, and visual aid charts to describe their emotions can be helpful to allow them to process and move through them.
Finally, offer plenty of understanding, support, and reassurance to help them work through their stresses.
5. Stay Involved
Some autistic people are high functioning, while some are not. As high-functioning people with autism become teens and adults, there is a tendency to step back and let them take the reins. This is okay, but it is important to stay in contact. Sometimes those with autism will have a tendency to withdraw from those around them, especially in high-stress situations. Keeping in close contact with them will ensure that they are being supported.