How to help someone with autism

Two people talking

Autism is a relatively common neurological and developmental disorder that affects about 1 in 100 people in the UK.

People with autism experience the world a little differently from those without the disorder and may find some tasks or situations more challenging than others.

If you know someone with autism, educating yourself about the disorder and speaking to them will help you to understand the most effective ways that you can support them.

What is autism?

Autism is not a medical condition; it is a developmental disorder that causes the brain to work in different ways.

Autism is a spectrum condition and the signs and symptoms of autism are different from one person to the next. Some people with autism may require a lot of support from those around them whilst others may live a fully independent life.

Many people with autism find social communication more challenging than normal. They may also carry out repetitive behaviours, enjoy restricted or obsessive interests, and struggle with changes to routine.

7 ways to help someone with autism

The best ways to help someone with autism vary greatly from one person to the next, depending on what symptoms they experience. Some people with autism require a far greater level of support than others.

Before trying to offer help or support to someone with autism, think carefully about what their interests are, where their strengths lie, and the types of situations they find most challenging.

We’ve put together a list of seven basic ways to support someone with autism to improve their wellbeing and help them to thrive.

1. Learn how to communicate with them effectively

People with autism may find communication and social situations more challenging than others. Communication may be improved using the tips below:

  • Be patient, encouraging, and compassionate.
  • Suggest conversation topics and bridge gaps in conversation.
  • Avoid using slang, sarcasm, figurative talk, and exaggeration.
  • Be specific, clear, and concise in what you say.
  • Don’t ask too many questions.
  • Make sure you have their attention before you start speaking.

2. Be aware of sensory sensitivities

People with autism may be over or under-responsive to sensory stimuli like sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and balance. Be aware that environments that are very loud, bright, or busy may be distressing, overwhelming, or draining for someone with autism. You can support a person with autism by helping them to find tools and strategies to help them to cope better with sensory stimuli. This could involve:

  • Wearing sunglasses or a hat in very bright environments
  • Wearing ear plugs or ear defenders in very loud environments.
  • Selecting soft, comfortable clothing.
  • Avoiding the busiest times when visiting places.
  • Modifying the environment to make it more comfortable for them where possible to do so.

3. Listen to them

Want to know how best to support someone with autism? The best way to figure this out is to have an honest and open conversation with them about it. Find out what the person struggles with the most and brainstorm ways that you could support them and help them to overcome these challenges together.

4. Be sensitive to their routine

Many people with autism find changes to their routines very upsetting and stressful. Try to be mindful of their routine when organising things and if they are required to do something that is out of routine, be understanding and offer support if they are feeling anxious about it.

5. Help them work on their social skills

People with autism often have the desire to be social and make friends but may find social situations more challenging than a neurotypical person would. If you know someone with autism who struggles in social situations, it can help to practice social skills with them. This may involve things like practising conversations, role-playing different social situations, and discussing the importance of body language.

6. Help them find support services or groups

There are plenty of autism support groups and services out there if you know where to look. If you think a person with autism would benefit from help with a particular area of their life, it may help to support them in finding, signing up for, and attending a relevant support group or service.

7. Educate yourself about autism

Here at Care Business Associate Training, we offer a popular Autism Awareness training course that promotes a better understanding of what autism is, the challenges people with autism may face, and the best ways to support someone with autism. The knowledge and skills taught during this training can be invaluable in both personal and professional situations.

For more information or to book your place on the course, give our team a call on 01772 816 922.