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What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing means something different to everybody. One way to define wellbeing is living “the good life” (Rodogno et al., 2016), whatever that means for you. People often say that life satisfaction, independence, purpose or meaning in life, positive relationships, health, and happiness are part of wellbeing. 

“Wellbeing is being happy with yourself. Being physically happy, being mentally happy, taking care of yourself…having a happy, healthy life.”     
– Emily, age 29,  autistic self-advocate 

“Being happy, being healthy. My wellbeing is the whole picture of my mental and physical health.”
– Leah, age 44, neurodivergent  self-advocate 

“Wellbeing to me is having a good life, working hard, having a good job, having a good social life, doing things you enjoy - whether its sports, or anime, or video game stuff, or nerd stuff.”
– Matt, age 28, person with autism

“There are some common threads that all of humankind has shown. Purpose and connection is way bigger than we were thinking. You can have purpose and connection and be on your death bed and be encouraging everyone else around you. And your wellbeing can be awesome.”  
 Brian Be, age 50, autistic self-advocate

Why is wellbeing important? 

Wellbeing is important because it is related to mental health,  physical health, and quality of life of adults. Improving your wellbeing can make a difference in these areas of your life. It is important to remember that everybody deserves to live a “good life”.  A healthy wellbeing is something that everyone can have – no matter their physical mobility, method of communication, cognitive functioning, or health conditions. 

Who is this guide for? 

This guide is for anyone who wants to know more about how to support the wellbeing of autistic adults*. This includes autistic people, parents and family members, caregivers, friends, and professionals. For information on the mental health of youth, visit our webpage at:

Tips for family members, caregivers, and other support people are included toward the end of this guide for those who are using this guide to support someone else.

How do I use this guide? 

The first step to improving your wellbeing is deciding what “the good life” looks like for you. This will be different for each person. 

This resource provides ideas for different ways to improve wellbeing. Some suggestions may be relevant to you, and some may not be. It can be overwhelming to focus on all the suggestions at once. You may want to bookmark this page and come back to it from time to time. Try focusing on one or two sections that are important to you. Then, take small steps to make a change or try something new. 

* A note about language: This guide uses "autistic" rather than "person with autism" throughout. This choice respects the preference for identity-first language expressed by many in the autistic community. However, we recognize that language preferences vary among individuals. When quoting directly, we honor the language choice of each person.

This webpage was created by Emma Wilkinson, 2023-24 Psychology Intern and LEND Fellow under the Mentorship of Judy Reaven, PhD. 

This project was supported, in part, by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Grant T73MC11044 and by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) under the University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCDEDD) Grant 90DDUC0106 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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