As part of Autism awareness month, I want share these ten things with you: 5 things we wish you knew about us, and 5 tips on how to care for someone on the autism spectrum.
What we wish you knew about us:
- We’re different. You can’t compare us to other people, or judge us the same way you would with other people. Because Autism spectrum disorders are neurological, we might look totally normal on the outside, but we actually think and behave very differently than “normal” people.
- We’re not disabled. Sure, there are things that make it more difficult for us to function on a day to day basis, but that doesn’t mean we’re not capable of living our own lives.
- We don’t always react appropriately. Usually people with Autism Spectrum disorders have a difficult time understanding and processing societal norms, especially in terms of social interaction. It doesn’t mean we are immature or don’t care, we just don’t know how we’re “supposed” to act or respond sometimes.
- We don’t usually understand emotion. Often times we won’t react appropriately simply because we don’t understand the emotion in the given situation. It doesn’t mean we don’t care; it’s just hard for us to know how to react.
- We’re not broken. We don’t need fixing, we don’t need solutions, and we don’t need a “cure.” We need people to love and accept us, and we need them to understand that this is who we are.
How to care for someone on the Autism Spectrum:
- Be patient. Sometimes it can take us a lot longer to answer questions or do tasks because we’re thinking in more detail about it than most people normally would.
Most of the time when we’re communicating with other people, it’s almost as if we’re speaking a second language. We need a certain level of grace so that when we make mistakes (which we do) we don’t have to be afraid that you will get upset.
- Listen. Most often, we say exactly what we mean to say. We need people to listen to what we are really trying to say, and not assume that we might be implying something other than what we are saying.
- Try to avoid unexpected change. Sudden change can make us very anxious and nervous. We won’t know what to do, because we haven’t mentally prepared for what’s happening.
- Ask detailed questions. Asking questions about things we’re interested in can help us feel comfortable when talking to you because we know what to say. For example, if someone really loves airplanes, you could ask them “what is the most expensive airplane ever built?”
- Don’t get frustrated if we won’t look at you or make eye contact. We most likely are giving you our full attention. We just tend to not look at people while talking because it makes it easier to concentrate on what we’re saying/hearing.
And lastly: Always remember that if you meet a person with an Autism spectrum disorder, then you’ve met one person with an Autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorders are very diverse and they affect people in many different ways. For example, one child might absolutely love surprises while another could be completely terrified of them.
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