How to interact with autistic children? I am often asked this question and the reality is, there are no two autistic individuals alike. Each autistic individual is unique and as such, your interactions with an autistic person will be just as unique.
There is however a neuroaffirmative approach you can undertake when supporting autistic people. As a parent, family member, friend or professional supporting autistic people, you ultimately want those interactions to be positive for you and the autistic individual.
Approaching every interaction with kindness, empathy, dignity and respect will set you off on the right foot from the start.
What To Do For An Autistic Child
1. Accept the child just as they are, please do not try to change them.
2. Communicate on their terms – not all autistic individuals use spoken words to communicate, please support the autistic person to communicate in a manner that is right for them. For example some autistic individuals are AAC users. Learn to communicate with ACC when supporting an autistic individual who communicates in this manner.
3. Support the autistic individuals special interests and passions. If you want to make real connections with autistic children, please remember that their special interests are incredibly meaningful to them.
4. Provide Visual Supports. Many autistic individuals thrive on predictability and routine. Providing Visual Supports can help autistic children make sense of their world, interactions and expectations.
5. Realise Autistic Social Skills are valid. Autistic social skills are valid and are not a diminished version of neurotypical social skills. From my own experience, I communicate best with, interact best with fellow autistic individuals.
6. Embrace Autistic Love Languages. Autistic Love languages may are different to neurotypical love languages. Recognise and embrace the authentic connections autistic individuals make through their love languages.
7. Respect Autistic Stimming. Autistic stimming is natural and should be embraced. Autistic individuals stim for many reasons, for example to self regulate, to express joy and happiness, to feel like their true authentic selves.
8. Encourage Autistic Friendships. Support autistic individuals to have friendships with fellow autistic individuals. It is important that autistic children can embrace their autistic identity and culture and they will be supported to do this by taking their place in the autistic community through genuine, organic friendships.
9. Non speaking is not equal to non intelligent. Please be careful of your language and interactions. Please ensure they are positive and empowering of autistic individuals.
10. Do NOT insist on eye contact – not every autistic individual is comfortable with eye contact and to a great point for many eye contact is not meaningful and can actually distract from genuine authentic interactions and communications.
I hope you found this post meaningful. If you want to learn more about autism, come say Hi! to me over on my instagram!.