Support Group Suggestions

I have been invited to several support groups for autistic teens and adults over the last six years or so. The people leading these groups do a great job and have a difficult task. Still, many of the participants drift into the dark black hole of self-pity, dwelling on the negatives of life instead of the positives.

Yes, a support group exists to help members deal with negatives. But, dwelling on and reliving the negatives can be a vicious cycle as each participant adds another layer of negativity to what is shared by previous speakers.

Here are some suggestions to help overcome this challenge:

1) What did you accomplish this week that you believed you might not be able to do? How do you feel about that accomplishment?

2) What have you done recently to improve your life and the lives others?

3) What actions have you taken to be a good role model for others?

4) How are you challenging negative stereotypes about [autism or X]?

5) What do you plan to try in coming weeks?

By discussing accomplishments, positive changes, and future plans, the groups I've met could reinforce the great things in life. Yes, we all get depressed and angry, but it is unhealthy to spend most of your waking hours upset and bitter.

Yes, I fall into the trap of being negative. I share a lot of negative events on this blog and people don't always know the positive things I am doing to offset the negatives. Maybe I need to share more of the positives. I worry that sounding too much like a cheerleader for myself might offend some readers, and it wouldn't be very humble.

When you let the negatives define you, it becomes much harder to be a positive person.

I don't like being autistic, and I admit that. But the autistic me isn't the professor me, the writer me, the husband me, the kitty "dad" me, or any of the other aspects of me. Keep that in mind as you read the blog and if you have positive questions about my life, ask them.

My new job is great, at a wonderful university. I am speaking to groups again, I'm mentoring some young people, and I believe my life itself is a contrast to stereotypes about autism.

Remember that every morning you wake is another chance to be a better person.


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