Include autism everywhere
As World Autism Awareness Month begins, our Marketing and Communications Intern Solmaz Farad explains how small changes can make the world of difference to autistic young people.
Loneliness can affect anyone, and it is not picky about who it chooses. The feeling of isolation, that crushing pain every time you see a group of people chatting, the longing feeling that you wish you could be amongst them. For autistic people, that is multiplied by a huge amount as we often feel that the world does not understand us and therefore unwillingly shut ourselves off from the world.
Difference shouldn’t lead to loneliness. Especially when sometimes it only takes very small changes to help autistic people feel more included wherever they go. That’s why for World Autism Awareness Month, our Youth Patrons have come up with some simple tips to help inform others about autism and how they can best support them.
The first set of tips explains how autistic people experience things in the world differently and what you can do to help them. I want to explain why some of these are important.
For an autistic person, meltdowns can feel like your world is ending for you. It is like you are in a ring of fire and the flames keep coming into your face and burning you. It can also be scary or distressing to someone on the outside, but it should not be. If you see an autistic person having a meltdown the best thing you could do at that moment is to give them space. This will help you avoid getting ‘burnt’ by their ‘ring of fire’ – something that nobody wants. Once you feel it has subsided go up to the person and calmly talk to them. Which brings me to my next point.
Communication is very difficult for autistic people because it seems that everyone has the ‘golden rulebook’ for speaking and socializing with each other and you do not. You must go it alone and improvise with people and nine times out of 10, it goes rough. If you are a non-autistic person, the rule you must know from an autistic person is that we all talk differently and that is ok. We must respect how other people communicate. We would like it if you explained some of your jokes or sayings to us, because we might not get it. Also when you do speak, the subject might be hard for us to understand, so allow us the time to process so we don’t get overwhelmed. This goes for learning things too.
Stimming is the act of getting out energy and can seem very strange for people watching who do not know what it means. But it’s nothing to be alarmed about as walking can also be a form of stimming and many young autistic people have different ways of stimming.
Ask if you’re not sure
As the saying goes – if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. If someone is acting differently to what you expect, you may feel embarrassed to ask them about it – but you shouldn’t and you should ask! This is one of the most important ways you can better understand a young autistic person’s needs and help everybody to feel welcome.
It's World Autism Awareness Month 2019 and Ambitious about Autism’s Youth Patrons are calling for access for all. Each week we will be sharing their advice on small changes everybody can make that will make autistic young people feel much more accepted and included in all aspects of everyday life.