10 WAYS TO HELP AUTISTIC PEOPLE [BY AN AUTISTIC PERSON]:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Bright lights and too much
noise are hell for autistic people. Is there anywhere quiet or dim that you
could take them to if they got stressed? Is there a way to lessen the noise
- Don’t tell us to “stop acting weird”. Chewing on things,
flapping our hands, rocking on our feet, and so on are all natural, healthy
behaviours that help us to process emotion and sensory input. Telling us not to
do them is akin to telling an allistic (non-autistic) person to stop smiling.
- Most autistic people are happy as we are. Some would rather
not be autistic, it’s true, but most of us just want to be ourselves without
shame or stigma. It’s generally bad manners to talk to us about a “cure” or “treatments”
for who we are.
- Non-verbal communication – vocal sounds, text or written
communication, sign language, etc – are all valid forms of communication which
we sometimes have to use. (Or always have to use, in some cases.) Sometimes, we
have to text the person sitting next to us because we can’t talk. Please don’t
try to make us use our voices when we’d rather not!
- Research autistic groups before supporting them. What do
actual autistic people say about this group? We like self-advocacy groups, we
don’t like allistic people trying to talk for us. Not every group that claims
to help autistic people is actually our friend!
- Special interests – things which autistic people fixate
on and obsess over – are healthy and important. Don’t make fun of us for getting
really into things, even if they’re “childish” things like Minecraft or Pokémon.
It’s incredibly hurtful when someone we like just dismisses our interests
without a second thought.
- When an autistic person is having a meltdown or shutdown,
listen to them! Don’t fuss over them or get up in their face. Just listen to
what they want you to do to help them, if anything. Let them write or text it,
if they have to, and keep your voice down!
- We don’t process the world the same way you do. Sometimes
things which seem obvious to you require explanation before we’ll understand
them. Sometimes an explanation you understand will be one that makes no sense
to us. Please be patient. We’re not being difficult on purpose! We want to
understand, we really do.
- Be understanding when we say we can’t do something. Our
energy gets used up a lot quicker than yours. Often we’d really like to do
something, but we just can’t, and it can be difficult for us to explain that.
Don’t guilt trip us for not going out or whatever – we already feel really bad
- Listen to our boundaries. If we don’t want to be
touched, don’t touch us. If we want you to leave our possessions alone, leave
them alone. If we aren’t up to talking, don’t try to make us talk. We need
boundaries a lot more than you do, so please try to respect them. It’s common
[I originally posted this on Facebook, but I decided to post it here, too.]