Autism is truly difficult to understand for those who haven’t experienced it first hand. For most people, autism is a distant, strange mental disability that involves someone else far, far away. The barriers and hurdles in the life of someone with autism are inconceivable to most. The hardships and challenges they face are a distant reality. Someone else’s reality.
Here are a few steps on how to support people with Autism provided by the Department of Health:
1. Explain at every stage what you are about to do, what will happen next and why.
2. Give the person enough time to understand the information you are sharing and wait a few seconds for a response if it is not given immediately.
3. Questions should be clear and direct using language that is easy to understand and pictures where necessary – do not rely on the person to pick up on the meaning of your questions or body language.
4. People with autism might take what you say literally so avoid words with a double meaning and humor that could be misunderstood.
5. Maintain a routine – familiarity is often important to some people with autism.
6. Social difficulties may include lack of eye contact and unusual body language, talking at inappropriate moments or about inappropriate topics.
7. Repetitive behaviors might be a coping mechanism and therefore should be respected.
8. The environment is important – some people with autism are particularly sensitive to light, movement, sounds, smell and touch. Try to keep the immediate environment as calm as possible to help alleviate any anxiety.
9. Always consider the person’s behaviour in terms of his or her autism, even if it becomes challenging.
10. Ask the person and/or parent, carer or advocate what support they might need.