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Autistic people are as varied in their communication styles as anyone else, so there’s generally no one right “answer” to how to communicate with them. However, keeping a few points about autistic individuals in mind, and above all treating everyone you talk to with respect, can help.
- See if you have interests in common, especially special interests. Many autistic people are used to others being unenthusiastic about their passions, so if you share the same passion and talk about it with them, it can feel truly magical.
- If you think they’re missing a cue, it’s best to be clear: “I have to go” or “I don’t want to talk about this right now.”
- Be prepared to explain figures of speech. For example, when a man told his autistic daughter that he had hooked up her computer to the TV outside, she looked out the window, became very distressed, and exclaimed “There’s no TV outside!” The father then explained that he meant outside her room, not outdoors.
- Autistic people also may not understand what the purpose of a particular communication is if you don’t explain it to them.