Autistic people may appear strange or intimidating to others, but we can be quite fun and charming if you are patient and able to take the time to get to know us.
This handy guide will help explain how to talk to us.
1 Eye Contact
For us eye contact isn’t at the top of our list of priorites, we actually don’t like it to be honest. But as an Autistic person I can usually think, listen, and speak better when I don’t need to make eye contact. But if say you sat or walk side by side with me then you stand a better chance of having me engage with you eye wise.
2. Avoid touching them unexpectedly
Some autistic people are highly sensitive to touch, and even a friendly pat on the back can feel alarming or painful. Some autistic people are highly sensitive to touch, and even a friendly pat on the back can feel alarming or painful.
3. Find a peaceful area to hang out.
Due to Sensory Processing Disorder, an autistic person might have trouble filtering out ambient noises and sights. Thus, it’s a good idea to hang out in a quieter place, so they can better focus on the conversation.
4. Speak clearly and understandably.
While some autistic people have no barriers to typical conversation, others may not understand everything you say. Be respectful, and be willing to repeat yourself if they didn’t catch what you said. Here are some difficulties they may face.
5. Be aware of challenges with reading social cues.
Autistic people may not understand facial expressions, body language, hidden implications, or hints—it depends on the individual. It helps to be clear about your thoughts and feelings. If they do something that’s socially tone-deaf, assume ignorance rather than malice. It’s unlikely that they mean any harm by it.
6. Know that you may witness a meltdown or shutdown.
Meltdowns occur when an autistic person can no longer suppress their pent-up stress,and releases it in a fit of emotion that may resemble a breakdown or tantrum. Shutdowns look like the opposite: the person “shuts down,” becomes passive, and loses the ability to interact. In both cases, it’s important to give them patience and compassion.
7. Expect them to stim.
Stimming is a natural autistic behavior that helps them stay calm, think clearly, feel good, express their feelings, and adapt to a challenging world. When your friend stims, act like there’s nothing unusual about it: ignore it and keep talking, or respond to their emotion (e.g. laughing along with them, or asking if they’re doing okay because they look distressed). They will appreciate your acceptance.
8. Try to be understanding.
Every autistic person is different, and their differences may make them seem odd or even rude. It might be because of a disability that they haven’t disclosed, a co-occurring condition, or a lack of understanding of social rules. Most likely, they never intended to be rude, and feel upset and apologetic if they learn that they hurt someone’s feelings.