When we look at taking care of our minds and bodies, spending time with others may not be the first thing we think of. It is easy in our busy day-to-day lives to feel caught up in our obligations and allow our relationships to fall by the wayside. While we may frequently interact with co-workers, neighbors, and the barista at our local coffee shop, there is a difference between a passing conversation and an intentional one. The difference is connecting. There is power in building a connection with those around you. For those with autism, connecting with others may look different from neurotypical people.
Some of the skills we work on with our clients at CA is navigating different social situations and utilizing skills to engage with others in a meaningful way. In our adolescent and adult programs for individuals on the autism spectrum, we practice these skills by encouraging the clients to hang out in communal spaces within their home, school, or work. It is wonderful being able to see friendships form and foster when we sit together around the dining room table or hang out in the living room after a day of work. Often, I’ve noticed, when a client is having a tough day but chooses to spend time with their friends or housemates, they end up feeling more positive after the fact. I can’t help but conclude that they’ve connected.
Spending quality time with those we care about allows us the space to decompress from everything we have going on in a healthy way. While we all strive for work-life balance, it is important to remember the relationships we have that helped us get to where we are now. Making time to connect with those we feel good being around is a vital piece of that work-life balance. This simple, yet intentional, choice may bring about the positive outlook needed to approach the next challenge. The power of connection is especially important today as the pressures of society, social media, and work can weigh us down.
Who will you be intentional about connecting with this week?