Earlier in the week I had asked for people to come up with some questions on what they would like to know about when it comes to autism. Well I have finally finished it and most of this is from my own understanding as well as what I remember from being in different autism groups.
Hopefully you all find this helpful. If you need me to answer more questions, feel free to comment on what you need explained.
1. What is important to know to successfully interact with someone with autism? The best piece of advice I can offer is to understand that each individual with autism is different, and to interact with one it’s best to get to know that specific individual’s needs. Doing some outside research might help too, but the best ways to understand are to ask that person, given that they are old enough to understand what their needs are and how to communicate them, or ask the parents what helps their child. Asking and getting to know that person, especially for those who are neurotypical, meaning don’t have a cognitive/genetic disability, makes a huge difference for the disabled community, especially autistics.
From my own experiences, a lot of people seem to either forget that I’m autistic or think that I’m either making it up/not capable of pretty much anything because it’s considered a hidden disability, like MS or fibromyalgia. The hardest part of trying to deal with it all is that there’s this big stigma that once you hit 18, you “grow out of it,” as if the autism suddenly just disappears. What I mean is that people are ok with you as a child having it but as you get older, people either push you away or you feel outcast because not many people seem to understand that your quirks are a result of autism. And quite frankly, it gets lonely not having many people to talk to or hang out with, mainly due to people making assumptions about what they think I can or can’t do based off of preconceived notions on a grander scale of autism.
Basically, what I am getting as with this is let that person tell you as long as they are capable and actually make them feel included. Autistics, at least from groups on Facebook I’m part, tend to all say how lonely it is trying to have friends and being pushed away. That’s also another option to is joining Facebook groups to ask actual autistics about their experiences or read up on things that affect them.
2. How common is autism? It’s more common than people realize. Back when I was diagnosed, I want to say it was 1 in 150 or 200 that had the diagnosis. Mind you this was in the early 2000s so it wasn’t as common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. have autism. The prevalence is 1 in 42 for boys and 1 in 189 for girls. These rates yield a gender ratio of about five boys for every girl. To go into further details on where I got this information, feel free to click here.
3. I’d love to know about people with autism in the workplace. In the workplace, its all dependant on what the job is and what strengths each individual has. Some people are very capable of doing fantastic at desk jobs, some are good at being greeters at places like Walmart, some, like myself, prefer doing stuff that gets me up and moving. Interacting can be a little different as some can be very rigid with interacting with them. A lot of cases, they are very hyper focused on their work or keeping to themselves, as socializing can be very hard. Not all people are like this, some are very social and have no qualms about talking your ear off. But the ones who feel very out of place or not interacting much, some of them want to interact, but a lot of times they don’t know how to say the right things or start conversations very well as it can cause anxiety. In those cases, just include them or find ways to talk to them one on one and get to know them, while slowly integrating them with others and making them feel more comfortable. To be able to tell some signs of an autistic, most cases of autistics, usually show stiffness, extreme awkwardness, some avoid eye contact, some have monotone speaking. But one thing is certain, they are usually some of the best workers you will come across in the workplace. Most cases, they are very good rule followers, very good at working hard to get the job done, and some cases will get overtime just to get the job done, if their job allows it. The best way though for an individual on the spectrum, is to let the employer know you have a disability. Mainly for employers in the US as there is a disability act that protects people who are disabled from getting wrongful termination. Some downfalls though are, even with being protected on a state and federal level, termination can still happen based off of attitude, hygiene, or vocal tones. What I mean is, when a person on the spectrum gets overwhelmed by what they are doing, there’s a very big chance they might snap harshly without intending too. A lot of times that causes complaints and the person will get talked too but sometimes they can get fired over repeated issues if they problem isn’t fixed. Hygiene can be a common problem for anyone really, but some on the spectrum have a hard time washing properly when they shower. And attitude can cause a big problem similar to vocal tone, as being overwhelmed can cause outward issues.
4. At what age (generally) and how is autism identified? Symptoms usually appear as early as 6 months, but most cases don’t usually get diagnosed until 18 months to 2 years at the earliest. It’s identified by different mannerisms a child or adult has through a list of different symptoms. A person usually goes through a testing process at a specific center, depending on the location in the world you live in, and they run through a series of tests, either throughout one day, or several days depending on the place you go to for testing. If I’m not mistaken, and I could be very wrong on this, but from what I’ve gathered in groups on Facebook I’ve been in is that around the world you need doctor referral for autism. Again I could be wrong on that statement. Each place that does testing does things that are specific towards telling how a person’s brain works and if they truly show symptoms with how an autistic would think.
5. What are some misconceptions people have about autism?
The first big one I can think of is that we don’t have emotions. In all honesty, we feel them, sometimes greater than the average person. Sometimes to the point where it’s overwhelming to deal with them. Some people on the spectrum struggle trying to get out their emotions, depending how how each one communicates. For myself, I can say how I feel perfectly through text but it’s harder for me to verbalize. But it also depends on if I’m in a meltdown or not, which can hinder how I think.
The next one I can think of is that people on the spectrum aren’t capable of driving. Granted, driving can be hard for a lot of people, but while on the spectrum there can be certain factors that are too much for them to handle. One example from someone I know while he was going through drivers training was he did just fine through practicing on courses, but when it came to being on the road it overwhelmed him. That can be hard for a lot of people, don’t get me wrong, but for some reason, and I speak from experience, having so much going on while trying to control yourself can be hard. I’ve been fortunate to have my license, but not all have the mentality to be able to drive for various reasons.
Another one is that people think that because a fairly decent amount of the population has a hard time with sports, means that all people aren’t capable of playing. Years ago, I met a former Michigan State University basketball player who happened to be autistic and he gave a speech about autism and how that affected him while playing. One thing that stood out was that he said he was the first autistic basketball player to play for a Big10 team. Even myself, I’ve done sports pretty much my whole life, starting with dance when I was about 3. The reason why there are ones who don’t play is mainly due to a mobility issue called dyspraxia. Basically it’s a comorbid disability that coincides with autism that affects the fine motor skills needed for sports, causing a delayed reaction in response to whatever sport is being played.