Ways to Support a Friend With Autism

Ways to Support a Friend With Autism
Daily living is not easy for a person living with autism, and they generally require support to have a semblance of good living; therefore, it would be fantastic for you to learn ways to support a friend with autism to help them live a more balanced life.

You can support them by helping them make neurotypical friends that will help them stay grounded in reality and learn better ways of social interaction; also, try to ensure that their friends are not only other people with autism because that won't help them broaden the horizon of their relationships.

Similarly, you can support a friend with autism by respecting them as a person with their interests and desires, and not lump them up with other individuals with autism and treat them as identical beings with the same interests and wants.

Furthermore, ensure you communicate clearly with them because their minds work differently and may not easily understand the nuances of conversations like other people; therefore, you may need to repeat your statements a few times and use illustrations so that they may understand you adequately.

You may consider using these ways to support a friend with autism:

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Help Them Make Friends 

A central theme in autism is the lack of social interaction between autistic people and neurotypical people because neurotypical people think autistic people only want to be friends with other autistic persons, but this isn't true, and you can support a friend with autism by helping them make friends.

It's usual to see autistic people sitting by themselves in a social gathering and avoiding the central places of conversation, which may lead people to see them as intentionally avoiding conversation and not realizing that they are trying to adjust to the loud noises and many conversing voices.

As a friend to an autistic person, when you see them trying to adjust to a social situation, try to involve them in a one-on-one conversation that will help them adapt faster and prevent them from looking weird to others.

Afterward, be sure to introduce them to other people one at a time, allowing your friend to immerse themselves into knowing one person before moving to another; helping them get social in little steps can be a game-changer for their social relationships and help them gain more self-confidence.

Regard Them as an Individual 

Generally, people make the mistake of putting all autistic persons in the same basket and regarding each of them as similar persons with the same characteristics, which is dismissive of their individuality and personal dignity.

Therefore, you can support a friend with autism by treating them as you would treat a neurotypical person; when you are in a room with them, talk to them instead of talking to other people about them, call them by their name, and relate with them normally.

You can also avoid calling them endearing names because they may see it as you having pity on them and not seeing them as independent enough to be regarded normally; hence, you should address them by their given name except they say otherwise.

And when you are helping them make decisions or making decisions that concern them, ensure you ask them for their wants like you would ask a neurotypical person; try not to assume that they would be fine with what another autistic person wanted.

Be Clear 

Conversing with autistic people usually requires greater concentration than a neurotypical person because they may interpret your words to mean something other than your intention; therefore, to support a friend with autism, you have to be very clear with your communication.

When speaking to them, avoid sarcasm, figurative sentences, irony, hyperbole, and rhetorical questions because they may take them literally, which will lead to a glitch in the communication attempt, so you should remain literal when communicating with them.

Also, when asking questions, try to be straightforward with them, don't ask open-ended questions that will get them stressed thinking about the appropriate reply, structure the questions in a logical sequence, and stick to short and essential questions.

You should equally understand that many information streams at once can lead to an overload for them, so you should try to reduce the number of words you use, focus on your words and lessen non-verbal communication, use visual aids if possible, and pause while talking to give them time to process your words.

Spread Awareness 

You can support a friend with autism by joining the spread of awareness for autism because the more people know about autism, the better reception and understanding your friend can get in places since people now know the signs of autism.

A great place to start your awareness is in your neighborhood by sharing your knowledge of autism with your friends, family, and neighbors; this will help your friend get instant positive attention from the people around because they can see the signs in your friend as you educate them about it.

Similarly, you can post on social media and inform people about the condition, thus enabling more people to realize how it works and make your friend happy if they ever see your social media posts.

You can also demand benefits or concessions for autistic persons at your school, workplace, or office center, letting them know ways to help autistic people: and the more you do these, the greater the awareness all over the country.

Don't Get Annoyed With Them 

It can be easy to get annoyed with autistic people because of their challenges in communicating clearly, but to support a friend with autism, you have to understand that they are experiencing different reactions and thoughts from neurotypical persons, which won't make them communicate easily.

Hence, whenever there's a barrier in communication that may be a bit upsetting, the first thing to do is to immediately accept them and the condition and understand that it's not their fault.

Then, take a deep breath and calm yourself down by thinking pleasant thoughts and imagining that the conversation will end on a great note once you have had proper communication with them.

Also, maintain a calm demeanor and be conscious of projecting an unruffled body language because any sign of irritation in your body language can effectively shut down the conversation since they would believe you are offended and uninterested in further discussion.

Conclusion

Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder may be challenging, but you can make the life easy and support a friend with autism by helping them make friends, regarding them as an individual, being clear in conversations with them, spreading awareness about the condition, and not getting annoyed at their challenge in communicating.

Resources 

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October 7th, 2022

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