On Autistic Pride Day – a day dedicated to celebrate autistic people held on June 18 each year – here are some communication tips that one should remember while connecting with someone on the autistic spectrum, so that they feel less stigmatised and misunderstood.
According to the National Autistic Society, UK, it is important to use their names at the start of a conversation so that they can clearly understand that they are being spoken to and can focus on the communication. Speak clearly, without irony or sarcasm so that the other person can understand you more effectively. Most importantly, allow them the time to process the information and reply, don’t assume their answers or make haste.
Another thing to remember is to not judge or assume an answer by facial cues or tone of voice, it is important to ask what the person is thinking.
When we think of socialising we think of hanging out together, going out for partying or meeting up with friends. However, autistic persons sometimes like to connect differently. They might want to use text messages or online chatting, social media or gaming to spend time with you, and you should be open to such forms of connections. While they are not very socially outgoing, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions, and make choices on their behalf. A good rule of thumb is to ask, always ask.
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Sometimes individuals with autism are hyper-focused, and in many cases it is this focus that allows them to reach great heights. So, if you want to be a friend or a well wisher always see this hype focus as a good thing, and don’t hold it against them.
What is normal to us may not be normal to others. The idea of ’normalcy’ is very subjective, so do not judge your autistic friend by your idea of normal. He/she is as normal as you are – you will have to understand it, and never express pity or feel sorry for that person.
Overcome your own preconceived notions of ‘social behaviour’ and meet an autistic person with curiosity, love and willingness to understand, you will find a very honest, loving friend in return.