Understanding is key.
I’ve read several articles over the past few days written by people without autism or Asperger’s telling people how people with autism and Asperger’s feel and how to relate with us. Well, as a person who has Asperger’s I’d love the opportunity to weigh in.
Here’s my two cents…
Leave us alone and stop asking us what’s wrong! How can you relate? You probably can’t AND THAT’S OK! We don’t need someone always asking what’s wrong or what they can do to help.
That being said…
If you really are interested in helping or understanding know this: Our anxiety is often what sets off our ability to cope well with situations. If there is a stress factor that is setting heavy on our thoughts then our ability to deal with the simplest things are affected. For you leaving the house, taking a shower, barking dogs, and someone knocking at the door are normal things. However, they can cause a lot of stress to people with autism and Asperger’s. How can you help? Try understanding the stress factor. Simply asking what’s wrong doesn’t always help. It actually adds more stress.
- Check your surroundings. Do you hear anything, smell anything, see anything that might be a stress factor?
- Eliminate it if you can.
- If you can’t then reassure the person that you understand it’s a stress factor and that you understand it’s bothering them.
- Stay calm. If you blow up or get angry then chances are the wheels will fall off and talking to them is pointless.
- Understand that we DO NOT process anything like you do. Sometimes it takes a bit before it sinks in that we’re OK. That everything is going to be OK.
- Deep breaths. Think before you react.
- Understand that if they aren’t in danger or endangering someone else it’s OK to walk away. Sometimes a situation is best defused by walking away and letting the person with autism or Asperger’s just be alone. It’s perfectly fine to check on them, but they’ll usually let you know when they are OK.
Even with people who score low of the scale these are helpful tips. My heart really does go out to those parents and guardians that have children who can’t communicate with them. It takes a really special person to try and understand why someone is upset rather than getting upset and resorting to yelling or abuse.
Keep in mind that I’m not that kind of doctor. Always refer to the advice of your doctors, mental health counselors, or therapists and NOT the words from some crack online dispensing his Pez advise. I’m not a doctor but I have a long history of working with people that have autism including my own son and living with it myself.
Don’t give up.
There is always hope. I’m writing this today because I had a mother who was proactive and teachers who were understanding. There is no fix. No magic pill. Just patience, understand, and deep breaths. A smile doesn’t hurt either.