One of my deepest desires is to help autistic and non-autistic people understand one another better.
Most of the time, I try to do this directly, by sharing my own perspective and experiences. But today I hope to help facilitate it indirectly, by sharing some tips to have better, kinder, more enlightening conversations with someone of a different neurotype.
I’m sure there are lots of ideas that I’m missing, but here are a few to start.
1. Always assume that the other person has good intentions. Don’t accuse autistics of being stubborn, and don’t accuse parents of abuse. It may look that way to you, but it almost certainly doesn’t feel that way to them, and such accusations can shut down a potentially meaningful dialogue.
2. Recognize that they know some things you don’t. Autistic adults have insight into how autistic kids feel on the inside, and parents have been following the lifelong journey of their own unique kids.
3. Be sensitive to how painful some topics can be, due to past memories or ongoing struggles. When you ask questions, accept each answer as a gift. If they speak with any bitterness or anger, patiently remember that it’s rooted in their own suffering, even if you believe you’ve suffered more.
Above all, please remember that no one is the enemy. Parents are trying their best to help their kids, and autistic adults are trying our best to save those kids from trouble that we went through ourselves.
Let’s do this together.