Individuals with neurodiversities sometimes have a difficult time feeling like they fit in, may have trouble connecting with those around them, they may spend much of their energy trying to be accepted or maintain the acceptance of others, and sometimes question their own intelligence or ability to function in the world. This can greatly affect self-esteem and self-worth, leading to feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and disconnection. The tendency towards all or nothing thinking can pose a barrier to the flexibility and perspective-taking that's needed in all areas of life. Often times there is also a deep sensitivity to rejection that, when paired with wanting to avoid disappointing others, creates a big amount of internal pressure to "not mess up." It's tough to navigate the world when it feels like no one else really seems to struggle with these same experiences, and perhaps not even really understanding why it's such a struggle to begin with! Additionally, for the most part, our society in general does not have a foundational framework that is set up to support neurodivergence. This can lend to feelings of being "other than" from a very early age, which can develop into negative self-image, negative self-talk, lack of confidence, amongst many other patterns.
Often when adolescents, teens, and young adults with neurodiversities are really trying to learn to identify and manage their emotions for the sake of social acceptance, they will sometimes slip and feel unable to utilize their coping skills in moments of high stress or dysregulation. And when, generally, there have already been years of negative self-talk deeply embedded and heightened self-pressure towards perfectionism, these times can result in feelings of shame and embarrassment, leading the individual to feel that they just cannot get it right no matter how hard they try. Psychoeducation around neurodivergence (including navigating neurodivergence within our society), re-wiring the negative self-talk, and learning how to find and focus on one’s strengths are the approaches we find most helpful in increasing self-confidence and self-esteem within folks with neurodivergencies.