AS PART OF WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS WEEK,
HERE ARE THE
10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AUTISM
1. Autism is a spectrum condition
This means that no two people will be the same. Everyone is different.
2. Autism is a different way of thinking and seeing the world
This means it’s important not to make any assumptions about the individual you know. For example, an activity that you find enjoyable and pleasant may well be very stressful for someone on the autistic spectrum.
3. 3 tips for communicating with someone with autism
- If you think it, say it!
- If you say it, mean it!
- Even if it’s obvious, explain it!
4. Most people with autism experience high levels of anxiety
Anxiety is common in people with autism, even in situations where you can’t really imagine there could be anything to be anxious about. Have some understanding that the person you know likely feels anxious most of the time and consider whether there’s anything you could do to help them feel less anxious.
5. It’s common for someone with autism to withdraw
Don’t take it personally if the autistic person you know declines invitations, backs out of social events, or doesn’t stay in touch very much. This person most likely finds life very tiring and needs a lot of time alone to process things and recuperate.
6. Many people with autism have heightened senses
Sounds can be far too loud, light can be too bright, smells can be overpowering, touch can be painful… etc. Having heightened senses means normal, everyday experiences can be highly uncomfortable. If you’re close to someone with autism, think about the environment you’re in and whether there’s anything you can do to reduce the intensity of sensations, e.g. close blinds, dim lights, avoid handshakes and hugging, etc.
7. Personality will affect someone just as much, if not more, than their autism
Everybody has their own unique personality – a set of likes and dislikes, a baseline mood, different personality traits, desire for socialising, etc.
8. Some people with autism are very sociable
A large proportion of literature and films depict autistic people as being very isolated with no desire to interact with anybody. Leo Kanner, one of the first people to discover autism, described autism as “a powerful desire for aloneness.” We now know however that there are lots of people with autism who are the opposite of this – some people with autism have a strong desire for social interactions and friendships.
9. Writing may be a better way to keep in touch with someone with autism
Verbal communication is very hard. Indeed, the criteria for a diagnosis of autism includes difficulties with social communication. You might get more out of someone with autism and make them feel more at ease if you initiate and encourage communication through written form, such as email, text message, writing, social media, etc. In this way, you may even manage to get someone to come out of their shell a little bit!
10. Predictability is important for most people with autism
A person with autism will probably find the world a very confusing and anxiety-provoking place. One way to make it less so is to help make things as predictable as possible – this means being on time, sticking to plans, reducing last minute changes – and giving them as much information as possible about what to expect whenever they go and do something, etc.