There is no shame in admitting that you are not an autism expert. Even medical practitioners find themselves solving a complicated puzzle as they delve deeper into the truth of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Changes to the guidelines in diagnosing the disorder, as well as the overlapping classifications that fall under the spectrum only confuse people even more. It is common to hear people complain about the challenges that they face in dealing with autism-related issues in their household or line of work. These concerns are often voiced out not to spew hatred or throw shade on the autism community, but to find answers and the right approach to understand their condition and accommodate the needs of autistic individuals.

Have you ever experienced getting cornered into a situation where an autistic person is involved? Whether the autistic individual is in your company or a complete stranger, you can never predict when their disorder will manifest that in some instances, may lead to serious consequences. For instance, they may react intensely to the stimuli coming from their surrounding, or easily get offended by what you or other people around them said. Their odd behavior may also be too much to handle sometimes, and tantrums can overwhelm even other people when you’re in public places. In social media and online communities, a lot of people are constantly discussing similar dilemma and are looking for answers and solutions to manage these autism issues. If ever you’re facing similar situations, you may find the tips below very helpful in dealing with your problem.

Situation 1: What will I do if I’m driving the vehicle and I got a passenger who keeps on covering their ears and makes kicking movements in their seat?

The fact that the passenger is covering their ears could indicate that their auditory sense is oversensitive and is offended by an external source which can lead to a meltdown if not addressed. The first thing to do is to provide something that can somehow block the noise or sound, such as earphones or earplugs. If the kicking continues, there must be other sensory stimuli that are causing the passenger to feel uneasy, so try handing out other objects that could reduce light, smell, and temperature. Sunglasses, face mask, jacket, and gloves could help a lot. Giving the passenger a calming object such like a stuffed toy or stress-ball is also highly suggested.

Situation 2: How will I tell my autistic cousin that they’re invading my privacy but in a non-offensive way?

Autistic people find it hard to read other people’s thoughts and follow through their actions and cues. If your neighbor is not respecting your personal space, it is best that you state your feelings in a polite way but with an assertive tone. You can say that you need time to be alone, or that you can do things together next time, and similar statements which are clear and can easily be understood, instead of making excuses that will only provoke the autistic person to use logic and reasoning and end up bothering you more.

Situation 3: How can I protect and provide support for my bullied classmate when he doesn’t want anyone to know that he’s autistic?  

Becoming an easy target of bullying and public ridicule, autistic individuals really need someone who not only understands them but also provides the necessary support and motivation. For the sake of your friend, you need to convince him to discuss his disorder to at least one adult person whom both of you trust and expect to show support. But when push comes to shove, you can stick up for him and convince the bullies to stop, in an assertive and calm way. If the problem continues, the best thing to do would be to finally tell his parents about the bullying case to decide on the right course of action.Â

Situation 4: What will I do If my niece goes into an autistic meltdown in the mall or similar public places?

First and foremost, it is important that you know the difference between a typical temper tantrum and an autistic meltdown. The basic difference is that a temper tantrum is caused by an unaddressed want, while autistic meltdown is caused by overwhelming sensory stimuli or situations. The latter is more difficult to stop because providing what the autistic person wants or giving your full attention to them won’t end it. For an autistic meltdown to stop, the autistic person has to expend their energy until they feel exhausted or tired. So if your niece goes into a meltdown in public places, the best thing to do is to carry them out of the area and into a car with windows opened to let her breathe fresh air until the meltdown subsides. If your niece is able to learn a calming routine, exercising that activity may be able to calm her down before the meltdown worsens.

Situation 5: What should I do when I need to approach an autistic individual for the first time?

If you’re feeling a little unsure of what to do, but approaching an autistic person is necessary, all you need to do is to feel like you are talking to a neurotypical individual. Be polite in introducing yourself and also be very welcoming of their presence. If it seems that the person exhibits body language similar to being bored or uninterested, it is encouraged that you ask the autistic person directly about it. This would help avoid certain miscommunications in your interaction.

These are just some of the common autism-involved situations that people face on a daily basis. While it may be helpful to follow these tips when dealing with similar issues, it is still advised to consider other people’s opinions. We recognize the fact that all individuals, even those with autism disorder, are different in a way and the same goes for our needs, preferences, and responses. If you have more concerns regarding this topic or the content of this page, we recommend that you seek professional help or see further links for more support.