So I want to write a character who is meeting an autistic person for the first time, and I want them to have good intentions and be a fairly kind person but also make mistakes and say things they don't quite realize is wrong. My question is: what kind of mistakes do you see allistic people make that aren't intentional and aren't unforgivably offensive? How are some ways autistic people deal with this? How frustrated might someone get having to explain these things so often?
Ideas of possible things your character might do:
Use that special voice they save for children and people who are disabled (we are disabled, but we are still adults)
Or, if talking to an autistic child, speak to them as if they are much younger
Give well-meaning but vaguely insulting platitudes about autism “oh you are soooo brave”
Say other well-meaning but rude comments like “oh, you don’t look autistic! I would never have known, you seem really normal.”
- Try to make allowances for the autistic person’s disability, without realising that they are coming across as patronising and are in fact presuming that they are unable to do things that they are able to do
- Be overly positive and smiley and happy all the time
Learn a small amount about autism and assume that it applies to all autistic people.
– assumes that autistic character cannot ever understand sarcasm
– assumes that autistic character will have a particular sensory profile (not every autistic person hates noise!
– makes comparisons to another autistic person - this is especially annoying if they are comparing an adult with autism to an autistic child (*wow, I don’t behave like your four-year-old nephew? Amazing!*)
Use “positive” stereotypes (e.g. “I love autistic people, they are so honest”) - I understand that they are trying to be nice, but I still want to roll my eyes way back into the back of my head sometimes. See also : this post from realsocialskills
them: *asks character’s opinion about something*
autistic character: *lies to their face*
them: “see, that’s what I love about you, character, I always know that you’ll tell me the truth”
If your character is willing to learn and adjust their behaviour, that’s good, but most people will stay that way forever, and this is probably what the autistic character is expecting to happen.
How frustrated the autistic character becomes depends on their personality!
Some characters will show frustration more readily than others.
Some characters would never explain that there was a problem, or might
not be able to, or might be worried about how to do it without being rude
How the autistic character deals with the unintentionally rude person depends on lots of factors - their personality, how often they will be seeing the rude person, who else is around them, etc.
Hope this helps.