The following is a blog written by Philip Wylie. As a short introduction Philip Wylie was born in Liverpool, UK. He has worked as Company Director, Business Manager, Company Secretary, Finance Manager, Interim Manager, Business Advisor, Tax Consultant, Sales Representative, and Chief Accountant for several SMEs and three top international companies in UK and the Middle East. He is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (FCA) and holds an MBA (London).
Since moving to Southeast Asia in 2003, Philip has facilitated workshops and worked as a business broker and advisor with Sunbelt Asia in Thailand. Philip has also written several books on subjects ranging from business to travel and culture.
In November 2011, Philip discovered that he had Asperger syndrome. Since then he wrote “Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger’s” (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2014) and originated the Nine Degrees of Autism developmental model. Nine Degrees of Freedom became a book presently available through Amazon.com.
This article is relevant to the final three stages of The Nine Degrees of Autism – A Developmental Model (Routledge, 2016). In the book, Professor Manuel Casanova wrote Chapter 2 about the neurology of autism. The authors of these final three stages are Wenn Lawson, Sara Heath and Temple Grandin.
Autism is an extremely diverse neurological condition which means that it affects people in different ways, and what improves the self-esteem of one person may not affect another because we are all unique. Therefore I am writing about the specific factors which improve my personal self-esteem. I cannot be sure that all the following factors are relevant to all people who are on the autism spectrum.
First, it is vitally important to be aware of what we can and cannot change in our lives. For example, we cannot change our parents so we have to accept them as they are. If your parents are abusive ‘refrigerator’ parents who cannot treat you as an equal, you may feel better about yourself by “cutting them loose”. Bad parents undermine our self-esteem massively.
Realize that much of the information available about autism is incorrect. Unfortunately, the medical profession focuses on negative autistic traits and “deficits” without mentioning our strengths or gifts. Therefore we must be fully aware of our positive traits and talents to improve our self-image.
Plan to make positive change in the areas of your life you have control over but don’t waste your time ruminating about adverse aspects of your life that you cannot change. It’s vitally important to make realistic plans because if your plans are unrealistic you are likely to fail, and then your self-esteem will take another plunge.
Naturally a healthy economy contributes to positive self-esteem. This is a problem for many people who are on the autism spectrum because an estimated 15% of autistic people work in full-time employment and many ‘gifts’ go unrecognized which is a terrible waste of talent.
The happiest employees tend to be those whose values are aligned with their employers. Also, it is worth noting that some ‘inclusive’ employers are actively seeking gifted autistic people, particularly in the field of software testing.
I value good health and I notice that I feel happiest when I am fit and healthy. I prefer to use natural medicines instead of pharmaceutical drugs whenever possible. Daily exercise supports positive mental wellbeing and sleep. Another benefit of taking regular cardiovascular exercise is that it helps keep in shape with lower body weight.
I need social contact every day and I believe most people do. It’s great to be in a wonderful relationship but being in an abusive relationship can be hell. I would prefer to be single than being in an abusive relationship. Be aware that predatory people seek out vulnerable people who are on the spectrum specifically to abuse them (but they may not be aware of their personality disorders).
Be very discerning with your relationships. It’s better to have a handful of true friends rather than hundreds of fickle acquaintances. It’s also important to be careful about who you share your diagnosis with as the outcome may result in disbelief, criticism, doubt, misunderstanding or even termination of the relationship altogether.
Having a meaningful project is a positive way of boosting our self-esteem. It may be a legacy project, a special interest or a job. The key is to follow our heart and to be passionate about what we do. Do not measure the value of your project by its economic outcome but instead, the value and joy that it brings to our world.
NEVER do anything against your will because doing so will damage your self-esteem. Therefore, we must always act with integrity and follow through with our promises. If anyone tries to coerce you into doing anything that you don’t agree with, LEAVE THE ABUSIVE SITUATION IMMEDIATELY!
Be kind to yourself and practice “self-compassion”. Be aware of your needs and do your best to meet them. Give yourself treats now and then, and don’t push yourself too hard. Avoid stress and conflict whenever possible. Always acknowledge your achievements and be grateful to others for their acts of kindness.
Beware of trolls and predators, particularly on internet forums. Instead consider other forms of support, such as engaging an autism mentor or life coach. If you seek any professional support always ensure that the person fully understands autism.
Whatever you do, always be aware that every one of us has a purpose in life. Always align your actions with your life purpose.
If you would like to hear my podcast on this topic, check out this link: http://www.myaspergers.net/what-is-aspergers/podcast/improving-self-esteem
Finally, I have written a Psychobiography trilogy called, “Psychobiography of a Systemiser” which is available at: https://www.amazon.com/Philip-Wylie/e/B003GS5FE4