Supporting Someone with Autism
7 Mar 2023
Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how a person acts and communicates with the world around them. Over 1% of the population has autism, but everyone experiences autism differently. There are different ways to support someone with autism, and you might use different strategies to help them navigate everyday challenges. It’s important for everyone to feel in control of their own journey, so it’s always best to discuss with the person how and whether they would like to be supported. Here are some ideas for ways to support someone with autism:
🔍 Educate yourself
Learn as much as you can about autism, its traits, and the challenges it can pose. This will help you understand which of these the person experience and how to best support them.
🎧 Respect sensory differences
Some people with autism have specific sensory differences, so they may make adjustments to their environment to make it more comfortable. Be mindful of this and try to adjust any environment that you share with them to make it comfortable for everyone. This might include dimming lights, reducing background noise, avoiding crowds, and much more.
📅 Stick to the plan
If you’ve made plans, try and stick to them. Unexpected changes to schedules might be difficult for autistic people, especially if they haven’t been given much notice. It can be helpful to provide a clear rundown of the plans before they happen so everyone knows what to expect.
🗨 Communicate clearly
Autistic people might find communication difficult, so it is important to speak clearly and concisely. Avoid any sarcasm or use of metaphors, and try not to use non-verbal cues as these might be difficult to understand. Be patient and give them time to respond.
To support people with autism, it's important to listen to them and be empathetic to their needs and experiences. Just by listening you can help the autistic person feel validated, supported and empowered. Ask them how you can best support them, and then provide that support.
🤗 Provide emotional support
Autistic people may experience frustration, anxiety, or low self-esteem due to the challenges they might face. Listen to their concerns, offer emotional support, and celebrate their successes.
🗣 Advocate for them
Depending on their needs, the person may need accommodations in school, work, or other settings. They may also want you to go with them to appointments or assessments. If they’d like the support, help advocate for them to receive the necessary accommodations or to make sure their points are heard.
Every autistic person has different traits and different needs, so each person requires support in different ways. Always ask the person how you can best help them and listen to their feedback and suggestions.