In Part 5 of my autism series, I will be talking about things that I want you to know about autism going forward. From my experiences with autism, I have seen some misconceptions that people have about autism, as well as mistakes that people make when they talk about the topic of autism. I feel that by experiencing autism first hand, I am well positioned to talk about some of these misconceptions.
Every person with autism has had different experiences
I have heard the phrase that you will never have met 2 people with autism that have had the exact same experiences, and the phrase is so true. It is so important to realise that autism effects different people in different ways, and there is no one size fits all when it comes to autism. Firstly, autism is a spectrum condition, some people are on the mild part of the spectrum and therefore their autism doesn’t impact their lives as much compared to someone on the more severe end of the spectrum. Therefore, it is clear that the spectrum aspect of autism means that some autistic people will need more support than others. Furthermore, not all autistic people struggle with the same thing, some may struggle in social settings, some may struggle when it comes to adapting to change, whereas others may find understanding other people’s feelings challenging. It is really important that we recognise that autism is actually quite a diverse condition in that it affects everyone on the spectrum differently, as that will help us be more open minded and understanding when it comes to talking about the topic of autism.
People with autism have unique qualities and strengths
This point is essential to talk about, as it really helps with reframing our thoughts when thinking about the autistic spectrum. I agree that there are unique challenges and battles that people with autism face, and some of these challenges can be a big part of their lives. However, on the flip side, autistic people also have unique qualities and strengths that can help them in so many aspects of their lives, and is something we should never underestimate. For example, some autistic people are very good when it comes to routine and organisation, which allows them to thrive in any career they go into to. Others are excellent problem solvers which a knack of being creative when it comes to finding solutions to problems. The unique qualities that autistic people have is something special, and something that definitely shines a positive light on the autistic spectrum.
Autism may be considered a disability but that shouldn’t dominate your thoughts when you think about autism
It is known for a long time that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability, and the two words “disorder” and “disability” have negative connotations attached to them. However, although these two words may cross your mind when you think about autism, it certainly shouldn’t dominate your thoughts when you think about autism. The reason is because if these words dominate your thoughts, you will think about autism in a negative way. This means that even if you don’t want to judge autistic people when you meet them, you will inevitably end up judging them in some way or the other in the back of your mind. A lot of autistic people know that ASD can be classified as a disability, but they want to thrive in life, and they certainly don’t want their disability to define them as a person. You should remember that the disability aspect of autism is only a very small part of it, and definitely not the thing that should dominate your thoughts.
You can learn a lot from people with autism
In my opinion, this is the single most important reason why you should be open minded when interacting with autistic people. Autistic people learn a lot from others that help them become a better person, and I believe the converse holds as well. As I said in the second point, people with autism have unique strengths and qualities that allow them to thrive, and this also gives us a great chance to learn and improve some of our skills. Furthermore, some autistic people have different perspectives of the world, which gives us a chance to expand our own perspective when interacting with them.