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What I wish people knew about Autism

1. We really do care about you and we really do want to socialise with you. We just may not feel comfortable approaching you and we may not know what to ask you. We do want to hear about your day, we do want to hear what you have been up to, we do want to hear what you have to say, but we may appear self- centred as we may not know what to ask you or we may feel awkward asking you a question. Please talk about yourself even if we do not ask, because we do want to hear it, even if we struggle to ask you questions.

2. Again, we do not want to be self-centred and we do not want to appear rude. If we do ask you a question and you answer we may not ask any follow up questions. This is because we do not know if you have anything else to share, or we do not know what to ask as a follow up question or we forget that a follow up question may be appreciated. It just doesn't click as to what we are supposed to do when we are in a social situation. Please just keep telling us what you want to tell us even if we do not ask.

3. Even if we seem anxious talking to you, we may still love talking to you. Social situations in general can spark feelings of anxiety and awkwardness. Please don't take our anxiety/awkwardness personally.

4. Although we may love feeling connected to others, we are likely to need more time to recharge after social events and we may need more alone time than the average person. Please don't be offended if we cancel plans or say no to a phone call.

5. Our stimming isn't something we can or should 'learn to stop'. Our stims can be helpful as they can help us feel good, help us regulate emotions and can be used to show that we are feeling excited, happy, anxious or stressed, for example.

6. Autism can cause many difficulties and struggles for both the individual and their family. Autistic people often have co-occurring mental health conditions and Autism can also make it difficult to do daily tasks. Saying that however, some people love their Autism and that is beautiful.

7. We may struggle with our auditory processing. We may mix up certain words and sounds when they are said to us as they sound very alike. For example, D and T can sound similar, as can G and D and sometimes words like 'High' and 'Eye' may sound similar. This is why it can sometimes be difficult for us to take information over the phone or understand what people are saying if they are wearing a mask.

8. We may feel less independent than non-autistic people as we may struggle with things like going out, making small talk, working etc. Other times, we can seem more independent as we can work well by ourselves and may thrive when working independently on a topic of passion.

9. Sometimes we may say things that seem rude, without meaning to be rude. This is because we may struggle to see things from another person's perspective and we may only see our point of view. This can make us appear quite rigid or stubborn, but we do not mean it. We may become frustrated because we do not see another perspective.

10. We may struggle to read social cues, so if you hint things or try to say things indirectly then we are not likely to pick up on it. Please speak to us directly, open communication is important.

11. Special interests "Autistic obsessions" are not something to be discouraged. They can bring an individual so much joy and can help them reduce anxiety, and can even become someone's profession.

12. Meltdowns are very different from bad behaviour. It is unhelpful and counterproductive to try to discipline someone for having meltdowns. The individual having the meltdown should not be judged, and it is not the fault of the family or the individual.

13. Sensory overload to sound may occur even when there are not any loud sounds present. It could just be that there is too much background noise, too much repetitive noise (if this one is an issue then look into misophonia) or too many people speaking at the same time.

14. We may butt into conversations and interject at random times, this is not us being rude. It could be because our thoughts are louder than you speaking, or that we do not know when we are supposed to speak or we may get really excited and blurt something out without being able to wait.

15. Sometimes our facial expressions and gestures may seem very over the top. This may be because we are trying to get the hang of mimicking facial expressions and body language, but it does not come naturally to us.

16. Sometimes we may seem neurotypical and other times we can seem as if our Autism is really affecting us. This is because we may be masking during the times we appear neurotypical so that we can get through the day and function whilst looking like we know what we are doing in social situations. The mask starts to come down when we are tired, stressed, have been socialising too much or if we feel really comfortable with the person we are with. Some people may feel as if they are faking or as if they have become 'more autistic' when not masking as they may see their masked self as their authentic self as they have been hiding their Autism traits for so long.

17. We may change the topic quickly when speaking. Talking about one linear subject can be too dull for us and our brains make beautiful and creative links between things that may not make much sense to others. Please do not tell us to slow down or stay on topic, as it does not work and can cause us to feel bad about ourselves and dim our spark.

18. We may not understand social "norms" such as what to talk about on dates or when in a relationship and we may struggle to tell what people's true intentions are. We may appear to go against what is expected of us as we do not know what social rules we are supposed to be following or we may not understand how social situations work.


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