April 2016 sees the start of World Autism Awareness Month. It’s a chance to raise awareness of a condition that is still universally misunderstood.
Autism is now called ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and when people are diagnosed, this is what they will be classed as having. It also encompasses Aspergers Syndrome, too – and anyone presenting with this condition, will simply be diagnosed as having ASD.
It can be a bewildering and confusing time if you’ve just been told you have autism – but if you do, or know someone that has, here are 12 things you should never ever say to anyone with it.
But…you have a job?
It’s called a spectrum disorder for a reason – there are varying degrees of severity with it. Many people with ASD can function and function well enough to hold down responsible jobs.
You can’t have autism. You’re talking!
Whilst it’s true there are many people who have ASD that are non-verbal, many people can communicate very well. Some people with ASD have above average language abilities. We’re not all mutes!
You must be a really high functioning person LOL.
Seriously? Go away. There are plenty people without ASD who are much more high functioning than us. It is true we love our routines. hate change and need to do things in a very specific way, but that alone does not make us high-functioning.
You must have no friends – what’s it like to be so lonely?
Socialising is hard, there is no denying it. Keeping and maintaining friendships can be very tricky indeed. ASD people need more space and time alone than most but that doesn’t mean we’re lonely. If we have friends or relationships it’s because we really want them and know we can cope.
But…you look so normal!
What’s a person with ASD supposed to look like? Well, they look like you, they look like me – they look like the man you passed in the street this morning as you went to the shop. You have probably passed at least 15 people in the last 24 hours with ASD and not known, because WE DON’T ALL WEAR BADGES SAYING WE HAVE ASD.
I’m sorry to hear that
Why? Yes, it is true it’s a hard condition to deal with. Some people at the higher end of the spectrum find daily life a struggle and can’t do much for themselves. People lower down on the spectrum can have just as fulfilling and happy a life as anyone else – and we have special skills that make us very happy. No need to be sorry.
You must take a lot of medicines
Yes. 3 doses of awesome 4 times daily. Seriously? Do you ask someone who has heart disease how many pills they take a day? NO. So why is it OK to ask someone with ASD the same?
Oh, you must have been vaccinated!
Vaccines. Do. Not. Cause. Autism. End. Of.
I’ve never seen you rocking back and forth
No, we’re not all rocking back and forth and stimming/flapping our hands. Some people do as a form of calming behaviour, but many have more subtle stims. It’s rude to ask this!
That explains why you’ve never had a boyfriend/girlfriend
No. No it doesn’t. People with ASD can have very fulfilling personal relationships if that’s what they want to do. Many are just as happy alone. Key word – HAPPY.
That’s quite depressing, you must feel very low
No. See all of the above points. Next question.
You can’t be Autistic, you’re rubbish at maths!
Being awesome at maths does not equal autism. Some people may need extra help with core subjects. We’re not all like Rainman. If an autistic person reaches out for help with something at school, it’s because they really need it. They may show aptitude and skill for any number of subjects besides maths.