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Autism Awareness, Confidence Building Tips for Autistic and ADHD Students

The school year can bring about many struggles for your autistic or ADHD child as well as increased anxiety and stress in your home. The new classrooms, teachers, friends and homework can bring extra feelings of anxiety, fear and self-doubt. When you are able to build your child’s self-esteem and confidence they will begin to believe in themselves and those areas around school, homework and school projects will not be as difficult this year.

Here are five tips you can use to help build your child’s confidence this school year:

1. Give praise specific to the task. Catching your child being good, making good decisions or even getting their homework in on time will give them a boost in their self-esteem. To take it one step further, be very specific in your praise. Instead of saying, “nice job” or “good work” break it down and be very specific. Say, “You did a great job finishing this reading assignment on time, I know it isn’t easy sitting still for that long, but you did great” or “Fabulous job on that math homework. I know it isn’t easy, but you showed some determination and it paid off because these are all correct.”

2. Share your own struggles. Sometimes when children feel down about themselves or their ability to do some of the homework, it can seem lonely and isolated. They may think they are the only one on the planet who can’t memorize math facts or read a chapter in a book within 15 minutes. Let your child know that you also struggle with certain things and they are not alone. Let the know it is hard to master new skills, but so worth it in the end. Give an example of something that you struggled with when you were younger and in school. How can you relate to their struggles?

3. Share your problem-solving skills. When you create that safe space of telling them your secret that you are not so great a certain things either, share with them what you did to learn something new or how you memorized your math facts. This way they realize they are not alone and they have the ability to solve their own problem. This is a very empowering lesson for children to take ownership of their behavior, actions and reactions.

4. The journey is worth it. Sometimes, when your child struggles in school they can see that they are putting a lot of effort, but not really seeing any “success” when they don’t receive a fabulous grade on a project. Remind them that it isn’t all about the end result. Learning is a journey and their hard work along that journey is very important. This will help validate the hard work and effort they put into their work. Sometimes the lesson is in how they were able to do the work and not necessarily in the ending grade. My son was excited when he got a D because it meant he passed. He was afraid of failing, but that D gave him a push to keep going. Those little nudges are enough to help them get to the next level.

5. Reach out for help. There are some great resources for you to utilize to help your student succeed. When we were struggling in 8th grade, my son’s school Psychologist found an ABA firm who matched us with an amazing consultant. She has been my son’s advocate ever since and is excited to see him graduate high school this year. Whether it is an ABA consultant, a specialized tutor, a reading specialist, an Occupational Therapist or another specialist take advantage of their skillset, advice, support and guidance. Our ABA consultant has been by our side through all our IEP meetings and 504 meetings and has taught myself and my son how to advocate for what we need to make his learning more manageable and less frustrating. I highly recommend taking advantage of these resources.

6. Unconditional love withstands all. Many children who struggle carry unseen stress and can feel like they are letting you down if they are not doing well in school. When you can give them that unconditional love, no matter what grades they receive, your child will feel that there are being supported by their family and no matter what grade, you will always love and support them.

How do you build up your child’s confidence?


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