A blog post marking Autism Awareness Week 2022 by our very own Sarah Thompson.
So often, I hear the phrase “I wouldn’t laugh at an autistic person” then the same person goes on to laugh at someone for fidgeting/stimming/having fixed interests/ being a picky eater/not understanding jokes/missing social cues and various other stereotypical ‘autistic behaviour’.
Reading this blog is the first step into doing better and becoming a true ally to the autistics in your life.
Learn about us from us
The internet is a brilliant resource full of memes, photos of cats and facts about dinosaurs BUT most of the information on there about autistic people seems to be written by medical professionals or carers whose ideas are stuck in the 1940s. Do some research and read about the experiences of autistic people written by autistic people.
Assume intelligence and capability
When you are talking to an autistic adult, remember that you’re still talking to an adult, even if they have a different neurotype. A very frustrating part of being autistic is being treated like a child or having people assume that we’re not capable of doing things. If you would like to help us, ask us 1- if we need help and 2- what kind of help we need.
Respect our needs
A lot of autistic people have heightened senses. This is known as sensory sensitivity. Some of the ways we combat this may seem obvious, such as wearing headphones to block out extra noise. Others might seem to make less sense, such as fidgeting or stimming for emotional regulation. As long as they aren’t harmful, they should not be stopped.
Watch your language!
Am I autistic or a person with autism? Refusing to say that a person is autistic takes away a fundamental part of what makes them who they are.
Using person first language, such as saying ‘a person with autism’ turns the autistic person’s identity into something they carry with them, as thought it’s an optional extra they can put down at the end of the day once they’re tired of it.
I’m not talking about buying us gifts (unless…?).
It’s time to realise that although autism is often hard work, it isn’t the tragedy it’s made out to be. Autistic people have different brains and different doesn’t mean bad. The diversity we bring to the world is a reason to be celebrated.