Do you know what Gates, Boyle and Jobs have in common? And if we add Einstein to this list, Darwin and E. Dickinson? These prominent personalities are thought to have or have had an autism spectrum disorder or its symptoms. Autistic people live in our society (they can be met at the University and at work, on the bus, in a shop, etc.), but due to the existing myths or lack of information in society, the thought of communicating with them confuses many. So, here are 6 recommendations that can be helpful when interacting with autistic people.
- Replace myths about autism with facts. Various myths about autism still prevail in society. In fact, it is a neurological developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social communication, language and communication, and repetitive, atypical behavior. Autism is not contagious, so you know. It is not known exactly what causes autism. Genetics, maternal diseases, infections might be involved. There is no scientific evidence that autism is caused by inadequate parenting, lack of effort to control one’s behavior, or other external influences when a child is born.
- Do not accept the “rude” behavior of an autistic person personally. It can be difficult for autistic individuals to understand social norms that seem self-evident to others. When communicating, it may seem that they are not interested – they do not maintain eye contact, do not show interest, do not use body language. In fact, autistic people want to communicate, only they lack the skills to do so. What seems normal to a person of normal development, an autistic person needs to learn.
- Talk clearly to an autistic person. It can be difficult for autistic people to understand humor, irony, subtle hints, to “read” another person’s emotions, mimics. Sometimes it can be difficult for autistic people to understand the language when it is spoken fast and in complex sentences.
- Be tolerant of repetitive movements of an autistic person as long as they do no harm. What does a worried person look like? Such a person usually cannot be in one place and repeats certain movements, such as knocking a finger on the table, clicking a pen, or tapping a foot. Because people with autism often experience stress, they behave similarly – swaying back and forth, spinning in one place, flapping hands, and so on. These movements help autistic individuals calm down.
- When being with an autistic person, choose a neutral, non-distracting environment. Autistic people may be particularly sensitive to sounds, bright lights, smells, or other sensory stimuli. Is there a sound that annoys you so much that you want to cover your ears? How would you feel if there were not one, but you could hear all the sounds in the environment at once? Autistic people may experience a similar feeling of discomfort in supermarkets, clubs, or other gathering places, making it very difficult or even impossible for them to stay in them.
- Warn about the change of plans. Autistic people are very fond of order, structure, order, and predictability. They like the rules they strictly follow. Spontaneous changes in plans are of great concern to people with autism, so it is very important for an autistic person to be notified in advance.
It is important to mention that perhaps many could be jealous of the non-standard thinking, justice, passionate interest in certain topics, and organization skills. These qualities could help unleash certain abilities, but sometimes autistic people just need support and acceptance.