You Never Know What Someone Might Be Struggling With Unless You Ask
If you are curious about autism, there are plenty of ways to learn more.
Autistic people are unique there is so much more to us than the stereotype of a young, white boy who is a genius.
You can’t guess someone’s abilities just by looking at them. I may be able to verbally speak but I still struggle with some really basic things like remembering to drink water.
- Learn from autistic people there are plenty of blogs and social media accounts run by autistic people, sharing their experiences and world views.
- Don’t assume someone’s abilities just by how they look or speak to you. If you are curious or confused, ask the person.
- Try to ask everyone you deal with what their access requirements are. You never know what someone might be struggling with.
You don’t have to be an expert to help autistic people feel more comfortable around you. In fact, I find that people with less expertise but who are more willing to listen and learn help me best.
You don’t immediately have to start doing all these things, but even a few small things helps. Many of these suggestions aren’t just helpful for autistic people, they are also useful for the general public.
You might not fix all of someone’s problems, but you might make an autistic person’s day a tiny bit easier.
Listen to what other people have to say and respect their needs.
A little bit of respect goes a long way in making the world a more comfortable place for autistic people.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives others need less.
A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified , and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.
Reasons People With Autism Struggle With Friendships
Social interactions can be baffling for people on the autism spectrum. They may become easily overwhelmed or frustrated when they try to develop and sustain friendships. Making friends can be frightening, confusing and anxiety-provoking for people with autism. There are various reasons why people with autism may find it challenging to make and maintain friendships.
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They Can Be Temperamental
Unusually, this is a sign or signal that something is wrong. When our loved ones seem to be agitated, withdrawn or manic, do not answer with a quick and impulsive response to the behavior. Instead try to understand that these behaviors are symptom of missed communication. They may be trying to tell you they are tired, frustrated or hungry.
When You Have An Interest It’s Intense And All
Obsessions are a very common part of autistic experiences. They tend to involve learning everything possible about one particular thing or range of things, from television shows to objects to people. It can either be an entire topic or something seriously specific, too. It’s not the same as being a super-fan, though a “special interest,” as it’s termed for the autistic, is an integral part of your identity and how you live your life, and is pursued in every avenue possible. One study calls them “intense, interfering, and idiosyncratic,” which sounds like a trio of children’s book characters. And pursuing your special interest is also deeply comforting.
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They Are Not Broken Autism Is Nobodys Fault
It is human nature to want to fix things that we think to be broken. When dealing with an autistic loved one, it is all too easy to go into fix it mode. However, this mindset can be very damaging. When trying to create a nurturing relationship, remember that your loved one didnt choose autism. It is no more their fault than it is yours. It is important that you continue to show love, empathy and a genuine desire to understand the struggles they face.
They May Not Know What To Say Or How To Say It
Conversation can be a difficult minefield for people with autism. Initiating conversation can be challenging. Even though they may like to speak about a particular interest, they may be too worried to do so or may be unsure of whether the other person is engaged in the conversation. When people feel especially anxious, they may get tongue-tied or forget what they want to say altogether. This is very true for some people on the spectrum.
Tips For Clear And Easy Communication
Autistic people may communicate differently. Some people have monotone voices, some people might only be able to speak in movie quotes or scripted sentences and some people may not be able to speak at all.
The way autistic people communicate isn’t wrong, it’s just different from other people.
ABC: Claire Mosley
For me, it feels like I am putting on a performance every time I talk with someone I have the lines and actions all memorised but I don’t know how to go off script or improvise.
It takes a lot of my energy to remember social skills, like eye contact, as they don’t come naturally to me, and there are still some things I have no idea how to do.
Some ways you can help autistic people include:
Dating On The Autism Spectrum: Notes For Neurotypical Partners
August 30, 2020 by Dr. Tasha Oswald
Hello! Welcome back to my blog series: Dating on the Autism Spectrum. In my clinical experience, this is a topic that interests many of my high-functioning autistic clients. So far, Ive shared dating tips for autistic individuals and how to handle conflict. Today I want to touch on what its like to be neurotypical and dating someone on the spectrum. I understand that every individual relationship is unique, but there are some common challenges that occur in this situation.
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Do Autistic People ‘get’ Jokes
Originally dubbed “little professors” by Viennese paediatrician Hans Asperger, autistic people have often been thought to be a rather serious bunch.
So do autistic people even have a sense of humour?
A new BBC podcast, 1800 Seconds on Autism, aims to dispel that no-humour myth, among other assumptions – with razor-sharp wit running through it.
The first time you heard that random joke, “What’s brown and sticky?” did you get it immediately?
Robyn Steward and Jamie Knight, two autistic BBC presenters, throw the old gag around in the latest edition of their podcast.
“Poo,” answers Robyn.
It’s logical to think that this tripper-upper of a joke would push the mind of most people in that particular direction but Kate Fox, who describes herself as a “half-out autistic comedian” says: “It’s because we think of poo, that it’s funny that it’s a stick.”
“But sticks aren’t necessarily sticky unless they’ve had a snail on them or something?” says Robyn, still thinking about stickiness rather than an object that is stick-like.
Jokes can take some working out and become even less funny when you have to explain them.
In a 1944 study, Hans Asperger showed funny cartoons to children on the spectrum. When they didn’t laugh at his examples, he concluded that his ‘little professors’ had an absence of humour – an idea which kind of stuck.
That word “deficit” comes up a lot, as a much disliked word when you talk to autistic people. It grates. It upsets.
Illustrations by Katie Horwich
You’re Very Sensitive To Stimuli Like Sound
This is an interesting one, because it differs radically across the spectrum of autism, but it’s worth noting. What are called “atypical sensory-based behaviors,” or reactions to sensory stimuli that aren’t quite normal, are often a part of autism, with some people extremely sensitive to various sensations or sounds. It’s not the same for everybody, though. Autism seems to cause problems in some people when it comes to interpreting and processing sensory information, to the point of causing confusion and pain: you may have difficulty remembering faces, and be either over- or under-sensitive to things like noise and smell. If people keep commenting that your reactions to these things are unusual, it may be a marker of something deeper.
Images: Pixels, Giphy
Rigidity In The Way People With Autism Can Think May Make It Difficult For Them To Compromise Or Cope With Changes In Routine
Having a routine provides predictability and comfort it is a way of reducing anxiety. Therefore, they may struggle if other people change their minds after plans have been arranged or turn up late. This can cause immense frustration. This can also mean they may struggle to see other peoples perceptions of situations.
Am I Autistic 17 Signs You May Be On The Autism Spectrum
Although advances are being made in the field every day, we still don’t know everything there is to know about autism. Right now, a person can be diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, which scales autism and related conditions under one big ol’ umbrella.
The autism spectrum records a series of disorders characterized by difficulty communicating and difficulty interacting with others. Back in the day, for most people, being autistic meant being like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man. Now, doctors, experts, and people on the spectrum themselves are redefining what it means to have an ASD .
While most people with autism are diagnosed in early childhood when language and socialization skills are developing, parents often notice that certain developmental markers aren’t being met and this leads them to an eventual diagnosis.
But just because you aren’t diagnosed as having autism as a child, that doesn’t mean you can never be diagnosed. Every family has that one odd-ball, and now, thanks to continued research in the field, we’re becoming more understanding of ASD and realizing that some people with these “quirks” may actually be somewhere on the spectrum.
If you have ever wondered “Am I autistic?” we’ve gathered 17 symptoms and signs of autism that could indicate you share behaviors with people commonly diagnosed.
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You Have Specific And Niche Interests
We all have our own interests and hobbies, and people with autism have them too, but they are intensely focused on them, usually to the exclusion of everything else. Common examples can be anything from a fascination with 1970s Italian furniture makers to being an expert on all things train-related.
Meet Autistic People Where They Are
One of the best ways to conceptualize the communication differences between people on the spectrum and neurotypical people is that autistic people communicate differently. For this reason, just like in any other setting, its important to meet people where they are and get educated on how to be more accommodating to people with neurodiverse communication styles.
Join the conversation here:
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Convert Negativity To Positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
What if I mess up this speech? What if Im not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?
Its no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think youre incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: Ill ace this speech and I can do it!
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative what ifs.
Heres a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
Were Not All White Men
Some autism awareness campaigns want you to Light It Up Blue because they say that autism disproportionately affects boys, but the fact that white heterosexual cisgender boys are more likely to be diagnosed with autism doesnt mean that theyre more likely to be autistic. There are autistic people of every color, creed, and class. Recent studies suggest that we might be more likely to be transgender than the allistic population.
The stereotype that autism is primarily a white male thing negatively affects everything from the way the rest of us are treated in society to what kind of care we receive to the age at which were diagnosedand whether we are able to receive a proper diagnosis at all. Which, in turn, perpetuates the idea that autism is for white boys.
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Be Patient When Communicating
Getting a message across as fast as possible is useless if the other person doesnt understand what you are trying to convey. Be patient. People on the spectrum may need a few extra quiet moments to process what you said, especially if communicating in a setting that isnt ideal, like in a large group or on the phone. Value truly sharing or receiving the message, even if it takes a little longer or looks different than what youre used to.
Please understand that Im often very nervous. So be patient. Alyona
What I need is for people to take long enough to give me a chance to process their comments and react. It is very hard for me to participate in group conversations with people talking over each other, so I dont think I come across well in those situations. As a grade school teacher observed, I am great with one-on-one interactions but less good at getting my point across in a group. It helps if there is relative quiet and few, if any, interruptions. The kind of parties I like are ones where you can have real conversations with one or a few people. I am a good communicator. I communicate best in writing. If you take the time to get to know me you will get to know a wonderful person. Lindsey H.
Best Communication Practices For Interacting With People With Autism
Everyone has different strengths, interests, needs and challenges. Just like with any other friend, colleague or acquaintance, learning these are the first step to positive relationships and communication.
People with autism bring new perspectives and ideas, enriching our communities and workplaces with their gifts inspired from seeing the world in different ways. We offer information about Autism Spectrum Disorder here. With 1 in 59 American children now diagnosed with some form of autism, if you think you dont know anyone with autism you might be wrong. Being part of the wider community and developing relationships benefits everyone.
We offer these tips and insights to achieve positive relationships and community, understanding more about what being on the autism spectrum means. Depending on the age and ability of the individual you may adapt different communication strategies and accommodations. These techniques are good to use with anyone, regardless of whether they are neurotypical or have ASD. Be respectful, ask what the person prefers, likes and needs.
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Respect Nonverbal Communication Too
There are many ways to communicate, and words are only a small portion of the equation. The exact numbers vary, but up to 80 or 90% of all communication is nonverbal, whether someone is considered verbal or nonverbal. Accordingly, pay attention to nonverbal forms of communication, which could include everything from tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures. This goes both ways autistic people use these clues to help understand meaning too.
People need to understand that just because someone with autism isnt speaking words doesnt mean they arent communicating. Communication isnt only verbal, its also nonverbal. It doesnt mean they dont understand you. Samantha B.
Romantic Relationships Can Be Difficult To Maneuver When Youre Dating On The Autism Spectrum
Romantic relationships are complex and confusing for neurotypical people. But, for autistic people, romantic relationships are even more complex and confusing. Many people with autism crave intimacy and love. But, they dont know how to achieve it in a romantic relationship. They can feel blind to everyday subtle social cues from their partner. This can cause conflict and hurt feelings.
Theres an old saying: Marriage is one of the hardest things youll ever do. And this really applies when you think about being in a relationship with an autistic partner. Most autistic adults that I work with tell me they are trying incredibly hard to be a good partner. I believe this! They are exhausted by the perplexing signs that their partners are giving them. It can feel like reading a book but you only get to see every 5th word. Your goal is now to understand the whole book, but you cant when you miss most of the story. Sometimes you might get the gist, but you still feel confused.
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