In ten days 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 #6: Three savouring walks a week
Go for a short walk (20 to 30 minutes) 3 times a week. As you walk, ask the autistic person to notice at least 3 positive and remarkable things. Examples: a cute dog passing by, the sophisticated architecture of a building, the reflection of the trees in a pond, the first Santa Claus in the shop windows, 3 cars in the person’s favourite colour, a favourite song being played somewhere, the sound of a rare bird, the smell of flowers, grass or rain, a remarkable license number plate (ABC-123). As the person notices each of these positive things, pause for a moment to fully enjoy them.
Actually, this savouring walk is a form of mindfulness. Mindfulness is an evidence based intervention to cope with stress and anxiety. It is also evidence based for people on the autism spectrum. However, for some autistic people, trying to be mindful at home, at work or in a therapy room, sitting still for quite some time, might be to difficult. A savouring walk is a more active form of mindfulness. And the extra bonus is: physical exercise. There is scientific evidence that physical exercise lowers the stress hormone cortisol and the anxiety in people with an autism diagnosis. So, a savouring walk is feeding two birds with one scone.