5 Things People with Autism Want You to Know

April is Autism Acceptance Month, a time when we reach out to ask for more understanding, acceptance and help in finding ways to include people with autism into our daily community lives. So, what do people with autism really want you to understand?

1. We are all individuals.

Autism affects everyone in different ways; if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve only met one person with autism. Each of us is unique and different. And we are definitely not the stereotypes you see in pop culture, so please don’t make assumptions that we are unfeeling robots, Rainman or savants.

2. We have hobbies, not special interests.

People with autism may hyper-focus on a certain subject and become an expert in it – particularly ones we are comfortable with and interested in. Instead of singling us out, our hobbies should be nurtured (into fulfilling careers if possible), and not treated as just unimportant special interests.

3. Understand why we stim.

People with autism sense the world differently and may experience sensory overload. In response to this, some people with autism might stim. Stimming is a self-soothing behavior such as rocking, humming and fidgeting, which helps us process our surroundings, reduce anxiety and provide comfort. It is important to be open-minded and flexible when you see a person stimming; we are trying to fit into our community.

4. Our communication might be different.

For some people with autism, it is easier if sentences are kept short and simple. Others find it easier when key words and phrases are repeated. Sometimes people with autism do not communicate with words at all. This should never be mistaken for a lack of intelligence. Please be open-minded and try to find different ways to communicate meaningfully with us.

5. We have empathy.

Some people think that when you have autism that you aren’t empathetic or can’t feel empathy, but this is wrong. In many cases, we actually feel overwhelming levels of empathy and other feelings, but we may not be able to express them in typical ways. Also, most of us prefer to say exactly what we mean and feel, but we might not realize this may upset you.

BONUS TIP: We need more autism-friendly environments and understanding.

Although each of us experiences the world differently, more can be done to make everyday environments more autism-friendly. Simple adjustments such as low-level lighting or decreased noise levels can make a difference. The best way you can support the autism community is to be flexible and remember that everyone is unique with different interests, needs, habits, likes and dislikes.

Have questions or need additional help or resources? The Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities is the community resource responsible for connecting, coordinating and funding services for individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities, such as autism. We help with everything from early intervention and education opportunities for children to employment and community inclusive living for adults. Call us at 330-725-7751 or visit www.mcbdd.org for more information.

Sponsored by:

Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities

Opinions and claims expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ScripType Publishing.