How to Interact with an Autistic Person
We already know that autistic people see the world and communicate differently, like we can see in Savant Syndrome. In spite of this, it’s still possible to interact with them if we know the right way to do so. If you want to know they keys for how to interact with an autistic person, you should start by trying to walk in their shoes.
How does an autistic person feel?
In order to communicate with an autistic person, you need to try to see the world from their point of view so it’s important to know a little about autism. Autistic people usually have a hard time understanding other people’s emotions, or they understand the emotions but don’t know what caused them. People with this disorder are introverted, so they have to make a big effort to interact and socialize with others. Even though that have a hard time with it, making connections can be very important for them.
Social Challenge: You may sometimes see an autistic person do something that’s not entirely appropriate in a social setting. If this happens, explain why what they did wrong and why is wasn’t appropriate. Autistic people usually appreciate rules, so explaining social rules in these terms may help them understand.
Importance of Routine: You also need to understand how important it is for an autistic person to have a routine. While you may not be worried if your daily routine changes, someone with autism may get annoyed if their routine is changed in anyway. Keep this in mind, and try to maintain a steady routine without too many changes.
Difficulties with Body Language: People with autism usually have a hard time understanding tone of voice and body language, so it you may have to explain what you’re trying to say rather than rely on non-verbal cues. Autistic people avoid eye-contact and may not like loud noises or being touched without notice, so try to avoid doing these things.
Tips for how to act around someone with autism
If you’re with a group of people, don’t tell them that your friend has autism unless you’ve been given permission. They may be working on their social skills and don’t want to seem like they have autism, so you can mention to them when they are doing something out of place, without drawing too much attention to it.
Autistic people may sometimes want to make new friends, and group activities can be a great way to do that. Even if their autism is pronounced, most people are a lot more understanding than they seem and will welcome the opportunity to talk to your friend. Don’t be nervous about introducing new people to someone with autism.
Accept their peculiarities without trying to constantly correct them. You already know that they have different social behaviors than someone without autism, so if you want to interact with them and be a friend then accept them how they are. If something they do bothers you or makes you feel uncomfortable, you can try to explain why what they’re doing makes you feel badly. You can save some time and confusion by talking clearly and openly about these things so they can learn from them. For example, you could say something like “I had a fight with a friend and I’m feeling sad. I want to be alone right now, but we can talk later.”
You can ask someone with autism about their disorder. Maybe they’ll share something with you that will be helpful to improve your relationship. If you want to talk about it, try to make sure you’re alone and in a calm environment. Try to speak clearly so that they don’t think you’re making fun of them or the situation.
Lastly, don’t be nervous or uncomfortable when they do stereotypies, or the movements that help calm them, because it helps them feel more comfortable. Some examples of stereotypies are: rocking, yelling, head banging… As long as they’re not hurting themselves, and relieve them more than they annoy you, let them continue. Overlook these things and treat them with the same respect that you treat anyone else. Although they see the world differently and act differently in social setting, we have to remember that we’re still talking to a human being and a friend, so treating them as such can make a huge difference. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it!
Molly is a writer specialized in health and psychology. She is passionate about neuroscience and how the brain works, and is constantly looking for new content from interesting sources. Molly is happy to give or take advice, and is always working to educate and inspire.
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