Tips to explain my disability

     by Inovar Autismo

Much is said about the inclusion of people with autism or other disabilities, but sometimes it can be difficult to know how to explain to others who we are.

The way we address our colleagues/friends can facilitate communication and inclusion of people with disabilities in the various contexts. When we use empathy to try to get others to understand us, as well as to better understand others, we are increasing the opportunities for everyone to feel included, welcomed and respected.

Autistic people often face mental health problems such as depression, high levels of stress or anxiety. Many of these aspects are related to trying to integrate and belong to a community (Nuske, et al.2019). However, lack of understanding and knowledge leads to frequent episodes of frustration.

Here are some tips you can use to explain to others what autism is:

  • Autism is a condition of the central nervous system that manifests itself in childhood and is characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction and by repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, interests or activities. Given that it’s a change at the brain level, you can explain that your brain has developed differently, and that’s okay!
  • It is important to treat the disabled person without labels. Like any citizen, the person with a disability has the right to be in different places, participate in games and do what they want, with the difference that, depending on the type of activity or task to be performed, they may need support. It is important that you explain this to your friends and family so that they themselves can also ensure that your rights are respected.
  • More than focusing on the difficulties, you should also explain that, like everyone else, you have your potential! Talk about your skills and interests, noting that all people, regardless of their characteristics, have their personality, dreams and passions.
  • Also explain to people that, depending on the cases, situations of “stimming” may arise. Stimming, which can be characterized by the emergence of various repetitive behaviors, can be a way to reduce anxiety, maintain body awareness, help with concentration, or deal with overwhelming sensations or emotions. As you explain this, others will not question or find it strange if it eventually happens, and you will feel free and less judged.
  • Ask your friends and family to help you identify some social situations that may be more complex to identify. For example, when interacting with another person, autistic people may get too close, not considering the other person’s space, or they may start a conversation about a topic that is not appropriate, without noticing the signals that other people may give.

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