5 Tips for Interacting With an Individual with Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects how an individual communicates, behaves, and interacts with others. People with autism can have trouble relating to and connecting with other people, but by learning more about this disorder, you can better understand how they experience the world and help promote acceptance and inclusion for this population.
If you know someone with autism or would like to pursue a career or volunteer opportunity working with individuals with autism, here are five tips to that will help you build a strong, positive relationship:
- Be Patient
Autism is a brain disorder, so individuals may take longer to process information. They may also struggle to express what they’re feeling and to control their emotions. Practicing patience and listening will help you work through problems much quicker and reduce negative behaviors, anxiety or panic.
- Communicate Clearly
When speaking to someone with autism, reframe questions into short, direct sentences. For example, instead of asking “What is your name?” try saying “Tell me your name.” Practice modeling desired actions or behaviors and monitor the responses you get. If your message is misunderstood or their response doesn’t match what you mean, clarify what you’re trying to say and adjust the speed of your conversation if needed.
- Be Respectful
Daily routines and schedules can be very important for people with autism, and any disruptions can cause great anxiety. If a change is necessary, help the individual prepare in advance and know what to expect. Some individuals may also need affection, while some do not like to be touched. Express to them your interest and care, then see how they respond. Respect their personal space and do not force affection.
- Be Understanding
Individuals with autism will probably display peculiar behavior such as avoiding eye contact, occupying your personal space, or missing social cues. But you must remember, it’s part of who they are, and you shouldn’t take anything personal. No one is born with social and coping skills; these must be learned and practiced.
- Stay Positive
Try to stay focused on the positive and provide encouragement on the things that are going well or need improvement. Individuals with autism respond best to positive reinforcement, so tell them when they’ve displayed good behavior and reward them for it often.
If you have a passion for helping others and would like to work with individuals with autism and other special needs, browse our open jobs and apply today!