Individuals with Autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – although we avoid using the term "disorder" on this website – display unique developmental patterns compared to those without Autism. They exhibit distinctive ways of thinking, moving, interacting, sensing, and processing that might not conform to conventional expectations.
While each person is unique, Autistic individuals tend to differ from their non-Autistic counterparts in the following areas:
These differences may manifest differently in children and adults.
Often, one of the initial indications that a child might be Autistic is the distinct development of their language and social skills compared to typically developing children. When it comes to socialising and communicating, an Autistic child may:
This list is not exhaustive, and each child's developmental journey is unique. Their experience will differ from those of other Autistic and non-Autistic children.
These variations in Autistic children's socialising and communication are neither "good" nor "bad"; they simply represent Autistic ways of engaging with the world and others. Autistic children do not lack "social skills"; they may lack non-Autistic social skills and instead demonstrate innate, Autistic social skills.
Autistic adults often exhibit non-traditional communication styles, both in expressing themselves and in receiving and interpreting communication. In terms of socialising and communicating, an Autistic adult may:
These differences may not be apparent in all Autistic adults you encounter, as many have learned to "mask" or camouflage their innate Autistic social skills over time. Masking, whether conscious or unconscious, is often a survival mechanism to increase the chances of feeling safe and included. However, masking can take a significant mental health toll on the Autistic person.
The distinctions in how Autistic adults socialise and communicate are neither "good" nor "bad"; they simply represent Autistic ways of engaging with the world and others. Autistic adults do not lack "social skills"; they may lack non-Autistic social skills and instead exhibit natural, Autistic social skills.
The brain development of Autistic children differs from that of their typically developing peers of the same age. Some of these differences involve how Autistic children interpret sensory input and engage with their interests. In terms of thinking and processing, Autistic children may:
This list is not exhaustive, and each child's developmental path is unique, resulting in different experiences for both Autistic and non-Autistic children.
These differences in Autistic children's thinking are neither "good" nor "bad"; they simply represent Autistic ways of engaging with the world and others. Autistic children do not lack "processing skills"; they may lack non-Autistic processing skills and instead exhibit innate, Autistic processing skills.
Autistic adults are likely to exhibit a distinct way of processing information, which can influence how they understand and communicate information about themselves and the world. In terms of thinking and processing, an Autistic adult might:
These differences in Autistic adults' way of thinking are neither "good" nor "bad"; they simply represent Autistic ways of engaging with the world and others. Autistic adults do not lack "processing skills"; they may lack non-Autistic processing skills and instead exhibit innate, Autistic processing skills.
Navigating communication with Autistic individuals can sometimes be challenging for those who are unfamiliar with their unique communication styles. However, understanding and adapting to these styles is essential for fostering meaningful connections and promoting an inclusive environment. In this guide, we'll explore practical tips and effective strategies to communicate with Autistic individuals, ensuring positive and supportive interactions.
Visual aids, such as social stories, visual schedules, or diagrams, can be beneficial for many Autistic individuals who may find it easier to understand information presented visually. Incorporating these tools can help to enhance communication and support understanding.
Autistic individuals often struggle with understanding figurative language or sarcasm. It is essential to use clear, direct language to ensure the message is effectively conveyed. Avoid using metaphors, idioms, or expressions that could lead to misunderstandings.
Some Autistic people may need additional time to process information and formulate a response. Be patient and allow them the time they need to comprehend and respond to your communication. Avoid interrupting or rushing them.
Nonverbal communication can be just as important as verbal communication, especially for Autistic individuals who may struggle with expressing themselves through speech. Pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and gestures to gain a better understanding of their emotions and intentions.
Some Autistic people may have heightened sensitivity to touch or proximity, so it's essential to respect their personal space. Always ask for permission before initiating any physical contact, and maintain a comfortable distance during conversations.
Every Autistic person is unique and may have specific communication preferences. Some may prefer written communication or using communication devices, while others may find verbal communication more comfortable. Adapt your communication style to accommodate their preferences, ensuring a more positive experience for both parties.
Creating an open and supportive environment is vital for encouraging successful communication with Autistic individuals. Show empathy, listen actively, and avoid making assumptions about their capabilities or needs.
Effective communication with Autistic individuals requires understanding, patience, and a willingness to adapt to their unique communication styles. By implementing these practical tips and strategies, you can foster more positive and meaningful connections while promoting a supportive and inclusive environment for all.
Our work takes place across the lands of Australia’s First People and Traditional Custodians. We acknowledge their continued connection and contribution to land, water and community, and pay our respects to Elders past and present.