- Eye contact: Some people with autism struggle with making eye contact. This does not mean the person is not listening or attentive.
- Use your senses: people with autism often communicate in nonverbal ways. Some use pictures, exchange boards, or other ways. So observe and listen.
- Take time: Give the person a moment to process. Keep words simple and concrete.
- When you speak, use a clear, calm voice.
- Use the person’s name when communicating with them.
- Beware of transitions. Flag any changes that are going to happen as people with autism often struggle to move from one activity to another. A two-minute warning might help.
- Be as flexible and patient as possible.
- Sensory issues: autism can make people very sensitive to light, sounds, scents, and textures. Adjust the situation if the person seems overstimulated. Darken a room. Move the person away from the irritant.
- Do not be surprised if the person paces, rocks or flaps. This is not abnormal. No need to discourage the person.
- Do not try to hug or contain the person. Often people with autism do not like to be touched.
If you or someone you know has struggled with autistic children, perhaps you can relate to Shannon Wray’s story. Her family is the subject of the upcoming CBC POV documentary film, Love, Hope & Autism airing on March 18, 2018, and she is at work on a companion book to the film entitled A Different World. Shannon lives in a small mountain village in Southern California with the love of her life and her son, who has autism. Her daughter is graduating from film school this Spring.
Watch Love, Hope & Autism on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 9pm (9:30 NT) on CBC Docs POV.