In two weeks we will all wish each other a happy New Year. And many people with autism will also receive that wish. But what if we turn that wish into concrete actions that can really make a difference in the happiness of people with autism? In the last weeks before New Year I post 10 concrete actions that can make 2022 a happy/happier year for autistic people. No super big, impressive, world changing actions, but little things that can make a difference. Small interventions, based on theory and research, that can easily be applied and that can make life in 2022 a (more) H.A.P.P.Y. life for someone (or more people) on the autism spectrum. Make your New Year’s Resolutions for an autism-friendly 2022 concrete and join me in 10 easy to do autism friendly well-being actions. And remember: no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Tip #4: A weekly thanksgiving day
The US and Canada celebrate Thanksgiving every year in Autumn. Thanksgiving has its roots in religious and cultural traditions, giving thanks for the blessing of a good harvest.
It seems simple, but thanking someone has an impact on the well-being of that person. It promotes his or her self-esteem. Expressing your gratitude for what you receive from another person, whether tangible or intangible, is a very simple and concrete way of showing your appreciation. It also improves your connection and relationship with that person. But above all, thanksgiving meets one of the basic human needs, namely the need for a meaningful and purposeful life. When someone says thank you, you experience that you mean something for the person.
So, here’s tip #4. Let’s not limit Thanksgiving to once a year and eating turkey. Practice gratitude once a week. I am sure that the autistic people you live or work with do at least one thing every week that deserves a big thank you. Install a weekly thanksgiving day where you give thanks to (at least) one autistic person.
Because people on the autism spectrum prefer visual and concrete communication, express your gratitude in a very concrete way: make it concrete what they did, said or made that makes you thank them. Also, express your gratitude in a less volatile and transient way than spoken language. Write it down. Give a ‘thank you card’. Or create your own card. Write a thank you on a post-it and post it where they can see it. Visualize your gratitude. Once a week, that is not too much, is it?
And, you know, thanksgiving does not only make the other person feel good. Science has repeatedly shown that expressing gratitude also brings about happiness for the one giving thanks. So, you make yourself happier as well…