Posted: Monday 26th March 2018
We should all take time to learn about others who are different to us. Some of us may have never met a person with autism before; some of us know many people with autism.
As the number of people diagnosed with autism in the UK increases, the likelihood that you will meet, work, socialise or have a simple interaction with a person who has autism is on the increase.
This World Autism Awareness Week (WAAW), take a few minutes to read our top 10 tips for interacting with people who have autism:
Explain what is happening and anything that you are about to do; what will happen next, when and why.
Routine and familiarity are important to some people with autism, so try to keep things as predictable as you can and provide warning if things are going to change.
Be consistent in your actions, and do what you say you are going to do. Back up verbal information, or instructions, in writing.
Allow timefor the autistic person to process and understand information you are sharing with them or questions that you are asking them. Wait up to 8 seconds for a response and then try again.
Language is important.It should be clear and concise; pictures may help. Check that the person with autism has understood you and don’t address the person’s carer or ignore the person themselves.
People with autism have difficulties with social interaction, so be prepared for lack of eye contact, unusual body language, talking at inappropriate times or about inappropriate subjects, or interrupting.
If the person’s behaviour becomes challenging, consider what may have triggered this, in view of their autism, and react appropriately – don’t be judgemental.
Respect repetitive behaviours and special interest – they can be coping mechanisms for autistic people.
Remember that the environment around them can cause sensory overload for some autistic people, who can be over - or under-sensitive to light, movement, sounds, smells and touch.
People with autism often rely on their support network – family, friends, carers, and advocates. Remember that these people need support too – ask them what you can do to help.
The above information plus much more is available in Hertfordshire All Age Autism Partnership Boards' newly published guide for employers, which is free to download online.
Support is also available to families of children and young people who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) via our SEND Local Offer website. With information and advice, residents can explore local activities and find out about community and support groups.
We also have lots of autism friendly libraries in Hertfordshire suitable for children and adults alike. A recently introduced initiative, the autism friendly service has developed visual stories to introduce autistic users to their local library and to help break down any barriers they might have before they visit. Each of the libraries also has trained staff who are experienced in working with people with a learning disability.