As I approach my fiftieth birthday, I’m writing a number of top five lists. Since autism is something that is close to my heart, I need to blog about this as well.
Autism awareness has come a long way but there is still far to go. Here are five things I wish people knew about autism.
- Autism and Diversity. The thing I repeat more often than anything is “If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” Never make assumptions about a person with autism based on knowing one or even a few people with autism. Everyone with autism is different and should be discovered as the unique person they are.
- Autism and Empathy. I often encounter people who assume that people with autism lack empathy. That may be true for some, as it may be true for some people without autism. But many people with autism are empathetic and may even be hyper-empathetic. Autism may only mean they express their empathy in a different way.
- Autism and Adulthood. Many of the conversations I hear about autism are about children with autism. But f all goes well, those children grow into adults with autism. Please do not forget about the parents.
- Autism and Intelligence. People should not make any assumptions about the intelligence of people with autism. This is especially true for those who are nonverbal. Communication issues may cause them to score low on IQ tests but that is not the final word. Many people who come across as having low intelligence have actually normal or above normal intelligence.
- Autism and Families. Autism doesn’t affect only the person with autism. It impacts the parents and siblings and extended family. Consider the families when you are looking to support a person with autism.