10 ways to remove barriers experienced by Autistic people

AsIAm recently polled a representative sample of 1,000 Irish adults. Whilst 4 in 5 adults now report being aware of Autism, just 42% believed they had a good understanding. In the charity’s separate Same Chance Report published earlier this week, 90% of Autistic people and family members said they did not believe the public understood enough about Autism, with 86% saying they did not enjoy the same chance in Irish society.

Speaking ahead of World Autism Day, AsIAm Founder and CEO, Adam Harris said “It is clear that we are living in a society which is much more aware of Autism and Autistic people than it was in even the recent past. However, it is clear that awareness simply isn’t enough.

“Autistic people must adapt every day to a world not built with us in mind and this means that day to day activities such as socialising with friends or going to the supermarket are much more challenging, stressful or simply out of reach. Small changes can make such a big difference and we are asking the public to give our community the same chance today, throughout World Autism Month and indeed all year around by following some simple tips which are essential for the inclusion of Autistic people and actually good for everyone!

“Each and every one of us can help remove barriers experienced by Autistic people by:

  1. Communicating clearly – saying what we mean in a clean and concise manner
  2. Being patient – giving others the time to process and respond and allowing everyone to do things in their own time
  3. Being sensory aware – environments that might seem calm and peaceful to you may be overwhelming for others. Think about the environment and understand that sometimes less is more 
  4. Don’t stare – sometimes people become overwhelmed in public places or do things a little bit differently. People can be self-conscious of these differences and don’t always feel safe in public places. Don’t stare!
  5. Focus on strengths – instead of calling out what a person may find difficult, think about what they love, what they are good at and use this to engage with a person and include
  6. Reaching out – many people are isolated in the community and would love to be included. Actively invite and seek to include those who may be left out or lonely
  7. Not Assuming – no two people are the same. Don’t assume you know what a person needs or wants – ask them or those close to them
  8. Being an ally – not everyone has the same voice in the community – actively listen and champion those who may not as easily be heard. Always call out bullying and discrimination when you see it
  9. Filling in the gaps – things which are obvious to one person are not always obvious to another. Tell a person what to expect and what is expected. Give as much detail as possible such as pictures or advance information. Don’t change the plan without a heads up!
  10. Watching your language – we still use lots of language which is offensive to Autistic people and disabled people more generally. Only ever use terms which are respectful of other people and diversity.

“The reality is Autistic people do not look differently to anyone else and the stigma that exists is such that many do not share their diagnosis with others. We can change this by creating an environment in which every person is accepted “as they are” – equal, valued and respected”, Mr Harris concluded.

The charity’s Same Chance campaign runs across the month and can be followed on social media using #SameChance. AsIAm provides support to autistic people across Ireland and is calling for the public to support its aim of providing support to 25,000 people by 2025 by donation today on asiam.ie

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