How Autism Can Cause Sadness and the Basic Needs Required for Happiness

The toughest part of being autistic/Asperger’s, is that our differences make it hard for us to fit into the rest of society.  It requires a constant, and rigorous amount of effort and determination.  Especially in areas such as social interaction and communication.

Autistic/Aspergers Causes of Sadness

There’s a strong link between Autism/Asperger’s and depression.

Along with our inability to naturally fit into society, there are other aspects of autism/Aspergers that can make us sad.  Such as:

But that doesn’t mean we should give in, and let depression and sadness take over us.  Far from it.  There are many things we can do to fight, and live a happy life with autism.

Our Basic Needs

One of the most influential early psychologists was Abraham Maslow.  He created a famous diagram called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  This diagram highlights what a human needs, in order to be content or happy in life.

It has been critiqued over the years, but it is still a perfect foundation to show all of our basic needs.

An adaption of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is below:

There are five levels to the pyramid.  The lower the level on the pyramid; the more vital it is to make sure this need is being met. If one of the basic needs has not been met, then our main focus should be on putting it right.  Without these core needs, happiness is very difficult.

Physiological Needs

The physiological needs we all require are: food, water, air, shelter, clothing, warmth, sleep, rest and sex. In order to fulfil our basic happiness levels.  These needs sound so basic, you could be led to thinking that everyone gets them without trying.  But many of them can be easily neglected such as:

  • Not eating enough nutritious food
  • Going without proper sleep
  • Not having a stable home
  • Not resting enough

These needs are essential to have a comfortable and happy life.


Safety is the second level of the pyramid and is also vitally important for our happiness.  This means making sure:

  • We are safe from danger
  • Our family is safe
  • Our belongings and property are safe
  • We are in a stable job that keeps us financially secure
  • We are in good physical health and fitness

Many of these things, especially for us autistics/Aspies, can be difficult meet.

In this day in age it’s also easy to neglect our physical fitness levels. Exercising and eating the right foods, is especially important for our well-being and happiness.  We don’t need to be ironman fit, or eat a calorie counted organic diet.  But we could eat a reasonably good balanced diet, and exercise at least once a week.


The third level up is love and belonging, which includes: friendship, family and being in a loving intimate relationship.  Autistics/Aspies like us really struggle to achieve these needs.

Because of our difficulties with social interaction, we find it very difficult to make new friends.  Then find it just as tough to maintain and keep these friendships.  In addition, finding a lifelong partner can also be hard.  But hard doesn’t mean impossible.   Many autistic/Aspies have been lucky enough to form good friendships, and are in long term stable relationships (such as being married with kids).  So it’s definitely possible.

Esteem and Self Actualisation

The next level of the pyramid is Esteem.  This means you have self-respect, other people respect you, you have a social status and you have recognition from other members of society.

At the top of the pyramid is self-actualisation, which on a basic level means achieving your full potential in life.

All of these needs in this section are ideal, but not completely necessary to live a happy and fulfilled life.  If we manage to meet all of the needs in the three sections of the pyramid below them, this would be a perfect goal to aim for.

Final Words

As you can see, there are many things that are required to live a fulfilled and happy life. I am quite sure that none of us get everything we need.  But the good side is that this helps us to focus on what areas we need to work on.  Plus enables us to prioritise them.

It’s worth saying that some needs take time and should not be rushed.  But taking the first step will often be enough, to lead us onto the right path.  Then with each additional small step, in the right direction, we will achieve greater accomplishments and happiness in life.

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