Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a lifelong developmental condition characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and non-verbal communication.
These challenges might make it difficult for them to interact with people as they are unable to express themselves or carry out daily activities independently. So how do we best communicate with them?
Here are some tips from TOUCH Centre for Independent Living (TCIL)!
Be proactive and engage them respectfully
These individuals are often keen to make friends and talk to people. But they it may be difficult as they struggle with social skills. You can try to approach them first, speak clearly and go straight to the point. Address them as how you would speak to anyone else.
Be patient and give them space
Give them time to process your questions and wait for their response. Some of them may not respond verbally, thus, be aware of their nonverbal communication such as sign language. Also, do note that some may not enjoy physical gestures, so be mindful and give them space to open up to you.
Keep to a regular routine and give ample time for changes
Individuals with ASD prefer to keep to a routine and dislike any unexpected changes. However, they can be taught new routines, as long as we give them ample time to process and internalise the new routine. For starters, you can try keeping to a regular routine when communicating and interacting with them. Slowly introduce new elements or activities to continue engaging them.
Be calm and resilient
Many a time, people find it difficult to break the ice with people with autism. This is normal. Do not feel dejected or hurt by their actions as they need time to warm up and accept a new person. Try again but be mindful of boundaries. If they are becoming uncomfortable, give them space and try again later.
TOUCH Centre for Independent Living (TCIL) is a day activity centre for persons with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, providing basic training in daily living skills and personal social skills to empower them in building independence in their daily living. TCIL adopts a holistic approach in working with and training its trainees, believing that each one of them is capable of achieving their highest potential when given the chance to live an independent life. Special programmes like TOUCH SpecialCrafts also seek to activate the artistic potential in trainees and enable them to showcase their works through direct sales, auctions and charity fairs.