Autism, or Autism Spectrum, is characterized by a change in neurological development, which manifests itself not only in childhood, but in lifelong development (Frith, 2003). It involves a set of difficulties in different areas, including communication, social interaction, and behavior. Some emotional, cognitive, motor, and sensory difficulties may also be present (Whitman, 2019).
Autism is not a disease, but rather a neurodevelopmental condition, in which there is a difference in the level of information processing. This means that the autistic brain has developed in a different way. In this way, the autistic brain may have a harder time filtering out some sensory information, including noises, lights, smells, and therefore has to make an additional effort to process everything at the same time. Autism expresses itself in different ways in different people. The most important thing is that each autistic person is recognized as a person, and that their individuality is respected.
Many people on the autism spectrum feel pressured to pretend they are not autistic. Many of them invest considerable effort daily in monitoring and modifying their behavior, observing other people and imitating behaviors, ways of dressing, speaking, interacting, etc. (Vasconcelos, 2022). We call this phenomenon “masking” and it can be extremely exhausting.
If you know someone autistic, you can tell them that they can trust you to talk openly about this topic and not judge any behavior that you might, from your perspective, find strange for the context they are in. Being able to have a friend to trust will make the person feel free and comfortable to be who they are!