According to a 2021 report by the CDC, 1 in 44 8-year-olds have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is not an uncommon situation these days. However, people with autism still have to deal with several societal issues that urgently need to be addressed.
When you first meet someone with autism, you may notice differences in the way they communicate and act. You may even wonder if the person is “weird.” But it’s important not to assume that someone is weird just because they have autism. In fact, people with autism can be some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.
They are often very intelligent and creative and can contribute valuable perspectives on how our world works and how we communicate with one another. So instead of shying away from these awesome individuals, why not take an interest in them?
Here are a few things teenagers can do to better understand people with autism:
#1 Ask and Listen
The first thing to do is to ask them how they feel about their autism and what it means to them. They might say that they don’t like being different from others or wish it weren’t so hard for them to make friends. But then again, maybe the person doesn’t mind being autistic at all.
They could even say that there are some things about having autism that are easier than being neurotypical, like not being bothered by loud noises or having a special interest in something really interesting.
And while we’re talking about asking questions: ask how your friend sees themselves in the world and how they see you as well. Maybe they feel like there’s no room for people like them. Maybe they think no one will ever understand their struggle. Perhaps this person believes that everyone else has it so much easier than they do because they’re “normal.”
You can even take a psychology class at school to maybe learn to listen and understand better. Psychology courses can be tough, however. So, do not hesitate to seek help from private tutors, especially when it comes to homework and assignments.
We tried this service where you can even reach out to online tuition services or homework assistance platforms for psychology homework help. They, too, have professional psychology tutors who can help you out.
#2 They are All People
A few weeks back, Click2Houston.com reported that a Livingston ISD teacher mistreated a boy with Autism. The teacher then went on to physically abuse the boy in another instance.
Such cases are not rare, as many don’t find it necessary to treat people with autism as humans. As disgusting as it may sound, it’s indeed the reality of the situation.
It’s important to remember that people on the autism spectrum are people first. They have thoughts, feelings, and wants like everyone else; they just learn differently and may need extra support to understand those things.
It’s also important to remember that autism is not a disease or something that needs fixing: it’s just another way of being in the world that might require some extra help sometimes.
#3 Never Make Assumptions
The first thing you can do to better understand people with autism is not made assumptions.
Don’t assume all people on the spectrum are the same. In fact, many don’t like to be called “autistic” because they feel it’s a label and not who they are. They may prefer terms such as “person with autism,” “individuals with autism,” or simply their name.
Don’t assume everyone on the spectrum isn’t the same, either! There are indeed some commonalities between individuals—but every individual has their own unique experiences and preferences that don’t always fit into neat categories.
Finally, don’t assume that everyone on the spectrum isn’t human! Just because someone may behave differently doesn’t mean they’re any less than you or I; in fact, it may mean quite the opposite: that they’ve had an especially difficult time coming to terms with social interaction due to their disability (although this isn’t always true).
#4 Knowing that the Spectrum is Unique
People with autism are often stereotyped as being on the spectrum. This oversimplifies and dehumanizes people with autism. Each person is unique and has their own personality, interests, ways of communicating, learning styles, and thinking about life. By understanding these, you can better understand how people on the spectrum learn differently from most other people in your life.
#5 Build a Bridge
You and your friend with autism are both on the same side, but you may have trouble connecting at first. You can help each other by finding a common interest to build from. Something as simple as sharing favorite bands, books, or movies can start conversations and give you something to talk about.
If you do not have much in common, try finding ways for both of you to make things better for people with autism. Do so by learning more about their lives and needs, sharing what they mean to you, or volunteering together at an autism-related organization event.
#6 Start a Conversation
Strike a conversation. When chatting with a person with autism, ask them how they feel about having it. Ask them what they think of how people treat them because of it and how they would like to be treated instead. And if there is anything about their experiences that hurts or upsets them, ask what it is and why. This can be an opportunity for your friend or loved one to share something important with you. It might also help you understand what is going on in their minds more clearly than ever!
One thing to remember here is that you are talking about a sensitive topic. So, you can seek professional advice regarding how to start a conversation before doing it. That way, you can ensure that you are not crossing any limits or asking the wrong questions.
The World Health Organization estimates that 1 out of 100 children globally has autism. Unlike an illness or a disease, autism is a condition that doesn’t fit any fixed parameters since the autism spectrum is quite broad. Thus comes the need to better understand these individuals so that we can help them adjust to their surroundings and adjust ourselves to suit their needs.
Understanding people with autism is finding the person underneath. Do not jump to conclusions about their behavior or make assumptions about their interests—instead, take it slow and start a conversation. You never know what you might find out.