Through Proof Positive, I learned autism service providers, like myself, can use the  PERMA+ Snapshot tool (Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Mattering, Accomplishment, and +Health) to support clients with goal setting and to determine what we need to be happy. With awareness of these topics, we can determine what’s missing and work to remedy that. Proof Positive’s resources offer a structured way to learn the science and skills of happiness, providing a pathway to what’s possible for our happiness. 

I was surprised at how the resources mapped so beautifully onto the services we were already providing. I think that’s one of the misconceptions—that teachers are afraid it’s another item on their to-do list when, in reality, it enhances what they’re already doing in the classroom. 

In the world of ABA services, there’s a lot of pressure to support my clients in making progress. They’ve been in situations where they’re repeatedly told they’re failing or have lost residential or school placements, and then feel they have little control over their own life or narrative. Starting again, whether a new program or place without resources, is difficult. 

When equipped with the science and skills of happiness, I believe we as providers can help people feel empowered, cheerlead them through situations, and focus on their inherent value. I’ve seen clients come out ahead because they’re starting from a place of success rather than deficits. It’s also important to notice and label the strengths that people bring to the table. When we find the good and strengths in people, we respect them. We can’t see our clients as people who need fixing.

I think the special part is that the science and skills of happiness empower people in their own wellbeing journey. It gets everyone on a level playing field to start and promotes equity in the classroom. It also encourages community-building when the people around you show up for others. A bonus is the skills offer the same problem-solving for teens as adults and young children. It’s the same steps and the same process. 

The skills are meant to be spread to others. Why wouldn’t you want everyone, including people with autism, to experience an improved quality of life? 

When we spread the skills of happiness to others, it promotes kindness and community. It gives leaders, teams, and clients a common language and a common set of values. Resources are finite, so it’s necessary to equip others with wellbeing tools instead of relying only on clinicians for guidance. With barriers like aging out of services, lack of funding, and providers’ limited contracted hours and resources, disseminating the science and skills of wellbeing is more important than ever. When we disseminate the science and skills, it increases accessibility for community integration. Communities grow to be more accepting and inclusive. 

All of us providers want access to naturalistic approaches and settings. The thing is, when systems fail, communities can carry us, and we can fall back on our learned wellbeing skills because the science will always remain true.

The more people know their strengths, the more people can show up for clients and peers with autism. Let’s show up for each other and move the needle toward flourishing for our ABA providers, clients, and for all. 

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