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The Layman’s Guide to Autism: How to Talk to People with Autism

Posted on June 19, 2019 by All In

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It can be daunting for neurotypical people to start a conversation with a person with autism because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Neurotypical people and people with autism think differently which can lead to miscommunication.

Here are 5 things to note when talking to a person with autism:

1. Be nice 

Neurotypical people tend to make assumptions about the mental capacity of people with autism just from listening to the way they speak. 

When you are talking to a person with autism, it is important that you always presume competence. Avoid questioning their capability and focus on reassuring and encouraging them.

2. Take the time to listen to them

People with autism may not always use the right choice of words, which could lead to misunderstandings. It is important that instead of jumping to conclusions you clarify with them on what their intended message was. 

Always take the time to listen to what they have to say.

3. Be patient and understanding towards them

Neurotypical people have the tendency to expect people with autism to read their facial expressions and know when something is wrong. 

In fact, people with autism can misinterpret social situations because they sometimes take some time to process the actions and emotions of others. They may say things that may come across as socially inappropriate.

Do be patient and understanding towards them. 

4. Be attentive to their body language

Stimming refers to behaviours such as hand-flapping, rocking, spinning or repetition of words and phrases. Stimming is common for people with autism. 

Do not be alarmed when a person with autism exhibits stimming-specific behaviour. They may be simply experiencing an excess of emotion or sensory stimuli.

However, excessive stimming can also signal that something is wrong. If you notice this happening, ask them if they are alright. Where possible, you can also help by dimming any bright lights and lowering loud noises.

5. Do not put pressure on them to be like you

Expecting people with autism to act like neurotypical people is asking them to act like someone they are not. 

Do understand that you are wired differently from people with autism, which is why people with autism act and speak differently from you. Instead of trying to change people with autism, help them to become the best that they can be.


All the content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Read This If You Don’t Know How to Talk to Someone who has Autism

Tips for Interacting with People with Autism

How to Interact with An Autistic Person

Overview of Stimming in Autism


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