1.Research & Resources
If you are a friend of someone who has recently told you they’re autistic/ they have autism, know that your idea of autism is probably askew from the actual spectrum disorder. A Playlist of Resources can be found on my Youtube. All of these videos are from people who are self-advocates and this because of the fact autism presents differently in each person. We have our own voices. We will speak for ourselves if society works with us. Our neurotype does not mean we are less than you. We simply function differently than you. Research is essential before asking questions for these reasons.
This is to save you some time with common misconceptions and media based representations too. Some of the most commonly know organizations are actually the most harmful to our community.
Organizations like “Autism Speaks” although well-known, is not a positive representation of the Autistic Spectrum Disorder. “Autism Speaks” is ironic given the fact that there is no one who has Autism working for them. In 2010, only 4% went to supporting families with Autistic children. The research has nothing to do with providing for anyone with Autism. The research they do is mainly upon the genetic and pre-natal awareness. The language used is dehumanizing and vilifying to our community. This, paired with the way the organization researches, creates no room for neurodiversity and encourages abortions of children that may develop autism.
However, make sure to ask your friend about their own experiences after you have done your research. This goes back to what I mentioned above, that self-advocacy is valued highly in our community because it effects us all differently. Our neurotype is unique but there are some common questions to avoid.
“Treat an Austic person like they are people”~Amythest Schaber
It is important to not change your communication style with us unless we ask. If we understood your way of talking prior to us coming out to you, we still will understand you. There is no need to baby talk or assume that we can’t speak for ourselves. We assess our own limitations in every situation. We have lived our lives lifelong with our neurotype. Some of us seek out sensory input and some of us can only handle certain kinds of stimuli for so long. If we grow to trust you we will answer your questions honestly.
3. Supporting & Meeting Us Where We Are
Autistic people have built in skills that we love to use. We love when you are a part of our journey. I will break this next section into the key elements that you will need to know to help us connect with you. Our connections are harder to form with neurotypicals, people with a non neuro-developemental conditions, but we can do it and we want to!
We stim! Stimming is behavior that helps us self regulate, self expression, and communication. Hand flapping, rocking, music, and verbal noises are all classified as stimming. We know that this behavior is not something you are probably used to. These behaviors are so valued so much by us for emotional regulation, expressing what we what we feel when we can’t find words, and communicating through our bodies in our language.
Scripting in social situations that we are in. Scripting is rehearsed language that we put into a bank of our resources. Some parents say this is not talking with our own words because it is repetitive. This language however also us to feel connected to you in our way with less anxiety.
4. Ask about our Interests
Lastly, we have special interests and exceptional talents. We may not relate to you about your interests for this reason. If your friend has a topic they know an abundance of information about, it’s probably their special interest. So ask us about it. We love to share our interest with you and educate you on topics we are passionate about.
In closing, your friend is autistic but first and foremost they are your friend. We trust you enough to share the diagnosis, newly or old, so respect us for trusting you with that information. We can always use another friend.