Autism is a brain-based disorder that affects how people communicate and relate to others. It's estimated that one in 68 children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As a parent, friend, sibling, or simply knowing someone living with autism, you're likely facing a unique set of challenges. But there are ways you can support your loved one on this journey and make it easier for them to live their lives independently, especially when there may not be a Direct Support Professional around.
Here are 10 tips for supporting someone living with autism:
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that it can affect people in different ways. It's important to understand what you're dealing with when supporting someone with autism because there are many different types of autism and not all people on the spectrum have the same needs. If you're looking for a way to help your loved one, here are a few things you should know:
- There is no known cure for autism.
- There are treatments available that may help improve their condition over time (for example: medication or therapy). Research shows that these therapies can work wonders when combined with other therapies like applied behavior analysis (ABA).
- ABA uses positive reinforcement techniques such as rewards and praise; this helps teach social skills so children learn how to communicate effectively by using words rather than tantrums or violence.
Learn their triggers
Triggers are the things that set off a person living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They may include sensory issues, weather changes, or even a random encounter with another person.
Identifying triggers is tough because most people can’t see what’s going on inside someone who deals with autism spectrum disorder. At best, you might know it when your loved one snaps at you for no reason and only says “sorry” when questioned later on.
While there aren't many hard and fast rules about how to avoid triggering your loved one who has ASD—you could try a few things such as:
- Try not to make too much noise around them whenever possible;
- Don't ask questions about their past;
- Be sensitive about touch or physical contact with them;
Be patient but not condescending
Don't be quick to judge the person's decisions or behavior. They may be doing everything they can to make their lives easier, and you should respect that! If they ask you for help in some way, don't ignore them.
Moreover, be respectful of their right to make their own decisions without being pressured into doing something against their own values or beliefs. This means not telling someone with ASD what he or she should do just because it's different from what you do.
Don't give up
Don’t give up on your loved one.
The people with ASD would appreciate your love and support. Never give up on them nor their family. If you have trouble communicating with your friend or family member living with autism is probably because you know less about it.
1st Choice Family Services offers educational content about the DD community. Feel free to visit our website https://1stchoicefamilyservices.org to learn more.
- Don’t give up on yourself.
You may feel like there's no reason for you to continue trying if your loved one isn't improving as quickly as you'd like; however, this attitude will only make things worse in the long term (and could even lead to depression). If a child has an illness such as autism or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), it means they are still developing physically but also mentally.
As one person with autism put it:
“It doesn't mean that we're any less intelligent or capable than those without these conditions; indeed sometimes having these medical conditions can be beneficial because they allow us access to more ways through which we can express ourselves creatively and creatively express ourselves socially.”
Involve the whole family
Involving the whole family is essential for success. The best way to do this is by creating a supportive environment where everyone feels safe, which can be accomplished by taking time out of your busy schedule and spending time together as a family. If your loved one has autism, try to create an atmosphere that allows him or her to participate in regular activities with others.
Don't talk about them as if they're not there
Talking about someone as if they aren't there is one of the most damaging things you can do. It's like assuming they are a fly on a wall, and it makes them feel like they're not part of the conversation.
Don't talk about them as if they're not listening or aware of what's going on around them—and don't ever assume that just because someone has autism it means that they can't understand what's going on around them. It may be hard for some people with autism to make eye contact, but this doesn't mean that their mind isn't working properly.
Offer to help, but never assume they need it
If you're in a position to help, offer to do so. But be careful not to assume they need your help or want your help.
Don't assume they want or need any of the things that you think might make them happier or feel better about themselves—like being given an opportunity to play with other kids at school, go on a field trip or have special accommodations for their classes at school (e.g., extra time for lunch).
Don’t assume that the best thing for someone living with autism is anything other than their own personal choice and free will; these things might not seem like much compared with how much we enjoy certain experiences (like traveling), but they are important nonetheless!
Take time to listen and observe
People with autism often have a different perspective on the world, and they often need you to understand that they see things differently than you do. Learn what makes sense to them, whether it's their handwriting or how they organize their belongings in cabinets.
While it might seem like an obvious thing for parents or other caregivers to do, many people forget that autistic people often need time alone from others so they can process information and find solutions for themselves.
Instead of assuming that all autistic people want is constant attention from others (which could lead us down the road of potentially damaging stereotypes), we should just be considerate enough not only with our words, but also by listening carefully while we converse with them.
Focus on building authentic relationships with those living with autism, rather than just helping them
When you're looking for ways to support people living with autism, it's important to remember that they are individuals. They may have their own unique needs and challenges, which means you shouldn't try to solve all their problems for them. Instead, focus on building authentic relationships with those living with autism, rather than just helping them.
Building authentic relationships means being open and honest about your feelings towards the person in question—whether that's a friend or family member diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It also means being willing to listen attentively when they speak; not only does this help them feel heard but also helps build trust between two people who care about one another.
The autism community is very supportive, but there is always room for more. If you’re looking for ways to support someone living with autism and their family members, for your information we've created our new 1CFS T-shirt collection that helps you support people living with autism.
Each T-shirt costs around $30 and a portion of the proceeds go to DSPs (professionals who care for people with autism) who help us provide services and programs to support those in need.
We hope this information enriches your knowledge. While these suggestions may seem like common sense now (and they are), it can be helpful to sit down with someone on the spectrum and ask them what they would like from a friend or a family member.