Like you, 85% of the community has a personal connection with an autistic person – whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour
We can all make small changes to our behaviour that will help create a more inclusive and welcoming world for autistic people.
Offering help once
You will likely recognize the signs of sensory overwhelm or a meltdown. If you do see someone experiencing this, politely ask them if there is something you can do to help – but respect their right to say no, and don’t ask more than once.
Be a friendly face
Autistic people and their families have told us that they are often stared at, tutted and avoided in public places. If you see someone in meltdown or sensory overload, offer a smile and some show of kindness.
Every autistic person experiences the world differently – so what works in communication or social interaction for an autistic person you know might not work for someone else. Respect every individual’s needs.
Talk directly to the person
Not all autistic people speak, but you should still speak to them! If an autistic person is non-speaking or doesn’t make eye contact, talking to them (not to their carer or parent) is an easy way to show them the respect they deserve.
Give them time to process information
Autistic people are often aware of many more things happening around them than non-autistic people. Give them plenty of time to answer questions or process instructions.
Give them space to stim
Some autistic people repeat behaviours to keep themselves calm – this is called ‘stimming’. Everyone stims differently, but you could carry around a commonly used sensory toy, like a tub of putty, to offer the autistic people in your life when they need to stim.
Make changes to the environment
Because you know an autistic person, you might be familiar with some common sensory sensitivities – put that knowledge to use by adjusting light levels, reducing noise volume and creating quiet areas to make more inclusive work spaces.
Respect their choices
You may recognise autistic behaviours in a colleague, but don’t ‘armchair diagnose’. Remember that every autistic individual has their own way of talking about their autism and communicating their needs – be supportive by letting them share in their own way
Understand their needs
The best thing you can do to support an autistic person is get to know them. When they share about their challenges or needs, actively listen, think about what you could do to support them, and then act.