Guidelines on how to work, play and live with autistic people

Hello. Are you #autistic? No? Cool. Now then, here are a few guidelines for how to work, play and live with #autistic people. I hope they prove useful and believe me when I say that taking care here may save lives. Please share, especially if you are not autistic yourself 
1. Do not challenge or question a person’s diagnosis of #autism, unless you are very close and well meaning. There is little more hurtful than this simple act of distrust.

2. Do not assume we will have some unusual or special skill or ability. This is ignorant and also kinda silly. Also, don’t judge us on this. #autism

3. Don’t assume that #autistic people also have learning disabilities. We don’t, necessarily.

4. There is no such thing as ‘looking #Autistic so never say we don’t ‘look autistic’. Seriously.

5. Do not expect or demand us to look you in the eye. Do not think less of us if we don’t look you in the eye. *accept* that we may not look you in the eye. #autism

6. Don’t touch us if we haven’t signalled in some way that we want to be touched. Even if you’re being nice, it’s too risky a strategy as #autistic people can be extremely sensitive to unwanted touch. Feel like this is pretty good advice generally.

7. Don’t assume that all #autistic people are white male children. #autism is widespread across the whole population.

8. Allow #autistic people time to think and respond when you ask them a question. Do not assume you’re not getting an answer.

9. Invite #autistic people at work to speak but do not be all weird and offended if they decline.

10. Be cool if an #autistic person leaves a situation abruptly or ends a conversation suddenly. They may need space or a recharge (almost literally)

11. Be cool if an #autistic person is unwilling to shake your hand, kiss your cheek, hug you, hold hands… Don’t take it personally and try not to get upset.

12. Don’t demand we eat what you want us to eat. Be accommodating. Don’t be offended if we decline your cake or dip. #autism

13. Don’t stop us engaging in our interests. By all means gently nudge us towards new, suitable ones if you think we’d like them, but don’t be pushy! #autism

14. Please don’t film us or take photos when we #Meltdown. It’s cruel and unreasonable. Don’t threaten to do this either. Don’t tell us off for our meltdowns. #autism

15. Please do understand that we will be very stressed, a lot of the time, and that this may be hidden very successfully. This is exhausting for us. #autism

16. Please don’t assume we have no emotions. #autistic people are actually likely to feel emotions, very strongly, which can be disorientating.

17. Be aware that there is a big overlap in the #autism community with the #LGBTQ community and that these communities are pretty close knit a lot of the time, so be sensitive.

18. Forgive us if we misread or misunderstand a situation – there’s an extremely good chance we’re already beating ourselves up over it. #autism

19. Be patient with us as #autistic people may be very disorganised, forgetful (almost to a fault) and bad at planning. This does not mean we’re incapable.

20. Our favourite interests are *extremely* important to us. Please don’t be dismissive or openly disinterested. Obviously you don’t have to indulge us but it is nice sometimes, and you may learn something! #autism

21. Please be aware that #autism can come with comorbid physical conditions that can mean we struggle sometimes quite badly. These conditions may not be visible.

22. Please be extra aware that #autistic adults may well have developed PTSD from repeated instances of advice like this not being taken, and may need extra support and care.

23. Please don’t patronise #autistic people, it’s not nice.

24. Don’t be all weirded out and embarrassed if an #autistic person talks with an unusual tone, volume or pitch. Just accept and leave us be.

25. If an #autistic person is having a meltdown, then back off and if you are the cause of the meltdown, back right off. Try to make safe the area but don’t be demanding of the person.

26. Check in on #autistic people, via text or whatever. They may be pretty crap at keeping in touch.

27. Give very clear, unambiguous instructions when that’s what you need to do. Make it very clear when something must be done by. #autism

28. Don’t ‘hint’ or ‘imply’ important things. Don’t leave #autistic people to read between the lines as that probably won’t work out to well for you or them, and we really hate screwing up.

29. Sarcasm can be OK in non-pressured situations, but generally may not work. Male banter, mock aggressiveness can be very difficult for #autistic men to negotiate.

30. Don’t assume @autistic people have no sense of humour. I’m autistic and I’m hilarious.

31. Be aware that #autistic people may have a very dark sense of humour and they may use it out of discomfort. Chandler Bing is very much like us in this respect… @MatthewPerry

32. Some #autistic people are extremely artistic and creative. #autism doesn’t mean science.

33. Don’t assume that all #autistic people have the same favourite interests. There are some commonalities though.

34. Bear in mind that #autistic people may use alcohol to help them cope in social situations. Don’t encourage over-use please!

35. Your #autistic colleagues may not want to socialise as frequently as the rest of you. They may prefer to have lunch or break alone. Don’t be offended by this.

36. #autistic people may wear the same clothes a lot. Please don’t assume they are dirty or unwashed.

37. Please don’t sit right next to #autistic people in tight spaces like in audiences, on trains etc unless necessary. I once sat at a Manics gig with an empty chair each side and it was bliss.

38. Do not discourage or tell off #autistic children for having fun lining up their toys or organising things into categories. You may not see this as fun, but they do, so back off.

39. Please avoid talking of cures for #autism around #autistic people. You may mean well but many, if not most of us view our #autism as an inherent part of our personalities and psyche. Curing this sounds harsh.

40. Similarly with talk of prevention, treatment and screening. All unhelpful and quite offensive for #autistic people.

41. If you are a parent to an #autistic child, please do not disregard the experience of
#autisticadults or assume we’re somehow ‘not autistic enough’ to listen to.

42. Please don’t conflate #autism with learning disabilities. They can frequently exist together, but autism is not technically a learning disability at all.

43. Do not change plans abruptly with #autistic people unless it genuinely can’t be helped. We tend to mentally prepare for things in advance and a change can spoil and waste that.

44. Don’t use the fact we’re #autistic to try to get away with gaslighting us. This is horribly common and really, viciously unpleasant. We are generally quite trusting of people we know and like, so that can destroy us.