Autism Spectrum Disorders: 10 Tips to Support Me

1. I am “autistic.” My autism is not an accessory . It is not something I carry around, it is the essence of my being. Autistic individuals like me are different, not less. We simply possess a different operating system and think differently. Do not use the term “autistic” in a negative or inconsiderate way. I deserve to be respected, as do all autistic individuals.

2.I am an individual. Each autistic person is unique. When you have met an autistic individual , you have met just one autistic. We are not all Rain Man! There is as much variety between autistic individuals as there are amongst non-autistic individuals. We may be wired differently, but each of us is a product of our genetics, environment and experience as is every one on the planet! Get to know me as an individual, to understand my strengths, my weaknesses, and what makes me tick. We all have our dreams and expectations, so ask me about my dreams.

3. Not everyone who is autistic has an intellectual disability. Many , like myself, were not aware that they were autistic until they became adults, or in my case middle aged. Not all of us require support services, but had higher functioning autism been recognised earlier, my life would have been different. Don’t dismiss early signs of autism as due to poor parenting, or bombard us with platitudes such as “we didn’t have autism in our day.” I have news for you! Oh yes you did! It just wasn’t recognised then unless you had an associated learning disability. And don’t patronise me with “well we are all a bit autistic”-this is demeaning and shows no empathy for the day to day struggles many of us face every day.

4. Autism is not a mental health condition, an illness or a disease. You can’t catch autism and its not contagious. However, sadly ,ignorance and prejudice can be. We do however suffer from health inequality or become victims of diagnostic overshadowing. I have suffered from both IBS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome , these were not psychosomatic in origin, but due to having to cope with considerable physiological stress over a considerable period of time, due to my sensory differences and decades of masking. When I have had meltdowns, this has been due to the features of my autism or reactions to my physical or social environment .

5.I am content in my own company, but it doesn’t mean that I desire to be friendless or a social outcast. It’s just that I find large social gatherings, or having to engage in social chit chat , physically and mentally exhausting. Do not exclude me from your social groups , but encourage and support me in making, growing and maintaining friendships. Being “Billy No Mates” or a social leper is not fun, even for those of us who are content in their own company.

6. Being autistic has led to some enforced isolation from some family members who may not understand my individual needs or may exclude me or my autistic children from family gatherings. Family is not always blood kin, support me to become part of other families and communities.

7. Support me to spread acceptance of autism and neurodiversity throughout society so that we can all be accepted for who we are, not what might have been , or what society thinks is best for us. Adopt a policy of nothing for us with out us . Support autism research , but only when it is of positive benefit for autistic people. We neither seek, nor want a cure or “treatment.” Never claim to fully understand autism unless you are either autistic or live with autism everyday.

8. I belong in society. Support and encourage me to contribute. Offer me the same employment advancement opportunities as may be available to non-autistic individuals. Do not expect autistic individuals like myself to always adapt to the neurotypical ways of thinking or doing things. Instead adapt the environment I have to face and modify settings and attitudes. This will help to make our society better.

9. I have human rights, and I have faced discrimination for many reasons. Many of us feel uncomfortable in job interviews or do not have the social connections or savvy to gain promotion , even if we have all of the necessary requirements essential for a specific job. Only 16 % of autistic adults in the UK are in full time, permanent employment. This needs to change!

10.I belong in the world. I have a role to play. My passion is to spread autism acceptance far and wide, to break down the health, economic and social barriers to equality for autistic individuals and be an advocate for positive change . Speak to me, find out about autism from the inside out, and utilise my personal and professional experience to empower autistic individuals and their families to live their best lives.

I am autistic. I am differently wired. I am Wired 4 Autism!

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The Autistic Carer-I am Wired4Autism !

Actually autistic, speaker, trainer and advocate. I provide autistic-led training and development programmes and professional 1:1 advice and support.