Adults on the autism spectrum have specific qualities which make life especially challenging for them. Knowing ways to work with these individuals helps to ensure they get the best treatment possible. Autistic individuals need extra patience and compassion from those around them. Below is a list of tips for working with adults on the autism spectrum.
Working With Adults on the Autism Spectrum
- Don’t Force Communication
- Respect Their Desire For Personal Space
- Stay Calm
- Be Prepared
- Keep Things Consistent
Don’t Force Communication
The autism spectrum actually refers to a range of disorders. Each disorder has its own specific symptoms and they are sub-classified to make the diagnosis process easier. Some of these disorders have common traits, such as the struggle to communicate. Autistic adults on the higher end of the spectrum are able to speak with a very high level of vocabulary while those on the lower end may only use sounds to communicate. Some may even be completely non-verbal. When working with adults on the autism spectrum it is important to allow ample time when communicating. Keep sentences short and concise. It is best to avoid use of sarcasm as autistic individuals are typically very literal and do understand it.
Respect Their Desire For Personal Space
Autistic adults experience sensory overload from stimuli that most individuals would generally find comfortable. It is important to understand autistic individuals do not enjoy common physical gestures such as hugs or pats on the back. In fact, this can lead to the equivalent of a panic attack for them. Kindness should be shown in other ways, such as verbal praise or small gifts.
During times when an autistic adult feels panicked and upset, it is important that their surrounding environment be calm and peaceful. Raised voices increase tension and panic. Speaking softly and allowing them their personal space works well. It may also be helpful to use distraction with a task they enjoy. An example could be assembling a puzzle. Those with autism are often incredibly meticulous. Try moving their attention from disorganization to sorting pieces according to size, as this gives a sense of structure and will be soothing to them.
Taking autistic adults to public places can be challenging since the outside world often doesn’t understand the disorder. This can be upsetting to the individual as it makes them feel like an outcast. Therefore, it is important to always be prepared to handle the emotional turmoil this type of situation may cause. Discussing unfamiliar situations ahead of time and making use of distractions in order to avoid the escalation of panic are two important techniques.
Keep Things Consistent
Autistic adults struggle with any type of change. These individuals prefer to be prepared and know what to expect in new situations. Remember to always stick to a regular schedule. Meals and hygiene practices need to be routine and take place at the same time each day. Personal belongings should be kept in the same place at all times.
Autistic adults are amazing individuals with a wealth of knowledge to offer. It is important to offer adults on the autism spectrum a chance to show their talents and abilities and put them to good use.