I’m Autistic – Holiday tip list for friends and family

A friend jotted down these great tips in anticipation of an office party. The list is useful for the Holiday season, but also, well… any time!

Autistics are both sensitive and straightforward. We take things literally and tend to be uncomfortable looking in the eye consistently, and with loud noises, uninvited touch, strong smells and intense or flashing lights. Socializing takes effort for these reasons, and accommodations are welcome.

So pass it along! Actually, quite a few of these will be agreeable to most people, autistic or not. These don’t apply to every autistic person, of course. But they cover the basics. Please feel free to contribute corrections or additional points.
1. Relax with the perfume

Tone it down. Better yet, don’t wear any.

2. Stop laughing so loud
… or shouting across the room. Really. Ouch.

3. Avoid cross-talking
Don’t expect me to follow a conversation if there’s more than one person talking at once.

4. No paparazzi or strobes
Don’t use flashing lights or a flash camera. Many autistics are also epileptic: a flashing light can trigger a seizure.

5. Respect the bubble
Don’t touch me if you can avoid it. In fact, try to avoid any sudden movements or encroaching on personal space.

6. No force-feeding

If I decline a certain food, it’s with good reason; don’t guilt me into eating it. Just don’t. Same goes for drinks.

7. Be sincere

Don’t ask ‘how are you’ unless you want the truth.

8. I’m not interested in your gossip
It’s not personal. I’m just not interested.

9. Processing…
Just because I don’t react visibly, doesn’t mean I didn’t hear/understand/care. It may take me time to answer a question. I may also freeze, and not answer. If I do this, don’t push the envelope  – that just puts me on the spot.

10. Don’t judge
Not looking you in the eye says nothing about someone’s character. And… don’t talk to us like we’re five years old.

11. Respect the overwhelm
If I go mute or start flapping my hands or bashing my head, back off. Don’t insist or pile on more stimulation. If I go and hide to be alone for a while to regroup, let me be.

12. Go ahead and say it
Say what you mean, it makes everything easier. And if you’re not sure about something, just ask. Quietly.

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One thought on “I’m Autistic – Holiday tip list for friends and family

  1. Echoes from the interwebs (many thanks) :

    Sam: Don’t respond to my telling you that I’m autistic by acting as if I’ve told you I’m a worthless, stinky, good-for-nothing incompetent.

    Neil: Treat me as a human being with rights, same as everyone else.

    Chris: Just because you don’t understand why I think/do/don’t do XYZ, does not mean I have to explain it to you, whether you demand it a million times or not.

    These should be included in every translation guide for non-autistics. That, and “Silence is okay”. Because it is. It really is.

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