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What to Do and What Not to Do for a Person with Autism or an Intellectual Disability

This article is things to say and responses and what not to say to a person who has Autism, Aspergers or any Intellectual Disability. I have found that far too often that well meaning people end up saying or doing the wrong thing.

This is for  adults who have Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, and Intellectual Disabilities, but  can apply to many ages and many conditions other than Aspergers, Autism, and Intellectual Disabilities. This list is based on responses that either I have received or I have heard other disabled people receive:
Things Not to Say or do for a persons with any Intellectual Disability 
1. Everyone feels like that sometimes. Believe me, it does not help. It can even make things worse.
2. Everything happens for a reason.
3. You’re fine. They have too many labels nowadays.
4. You can do this. People have always told you you can’t, but I know you can. Perhaps they really can’t. After all, how do you really know what they can and cannot do? Can you really step inside their shoes and see what it’s really like for them?
5. Things could always be worse.
6. Some people have it worse than you. I have heard some of it. People used to tell me I could have had something worse like be crippled or having  Down’s syndrome. They don’t see my Disability  a big deal despite the stress I had put them through. To me, it is a big deal.
7. Be happy. Start thinking positively. Some days I wake up and feel off & people telling me that is not going to help. 
8. That’s no big deal. Maybe to me, something is a big deal. Everyone is different. What’s not a big deal to one person is a huge deal to another. 
9. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start thinking of others. 
10. Everyone has problems. Stop focusing on yours.
11. But you seem so normal or you don’t have it all that bad.  Being told you are mild just because you are talking well to them. I say “Put more people in our conversation and then I would have difficulty.” I am mild of course but to assume someone is mild based on how much they talk is absurd because I have noticed that people with Autism either talk and not shut up or hardly ever talk and don’t get a word out.12. Are you sure? Perhaps  you need a second opinion. I know a person who was told that. Never tell a person to get a second opinion. 13. Why do you think that? 14. You didn’t didn’t write that, you copied that. You’re not capable of writing like that, because you.re disabled. I have been falsely accused of copy my work cause of being disabled. Just because a person has an intellectual disability, doesn’t mean they are capable of doing great work.15.  Aren’t you glad you found out? It still doesn’t make it any easier to live with. 16. That’s so trendy. Everyone thinks they have that.17. Did you get an “official” diagnosis? 18. I’m uncomfortable with people classifying themselves by a diagnosis.19. That they can’t come along somewhere cause they are disabled. That can make a person feel as if having a disability is their fault or feeling left out. Instead accommodations should be made.20. Well, now that you know, stop focusing on it, and get on with your life. It’s not that easy. 21. Do you understand what I am saying? We understand more than you think.22. Don’t call people a freak. That’s just plain mean.23. Use your natural supports. I hear that all the time being in the system and it frustrates the heck out of me when I hear that cause services are being cut left and right.24. I’m not going to help you, cause I want you to ask others first. That also frustrates me, because often there are no other people, and just the simple act of having to ask a lot of people can get overwhelming.25. We all have to have changes, cause that’s the only way they will grow. People with Autism have a lot of trouble adjusting to change.26. If they ever have to move, don’t move them out of their comfort zone. Moving an autistic adult away from everything that is familiar is the worst thing you can do for them. 27. Stop being so lazy and work more hours or you can work 40 hours a week. Yes, I have actually been told that. Just cause one person is capable of working that many hours doesn’t mean that everybody can. Here are some Beneficial Approaches in Response to “I have Aspergers or Autism or Intellectual Disability” and things that can really help:1. Offer a warm smile and nod. Listen and comprehend. Try to understand.2. I’m on your side. I’m here for you. You are not alone. I am here to stay.3.ask  Where can I find more information?4.Say you are a strong person. I love you for being you. I am your friend no matter what.5. Make a friendly call or send a friendly text or email. Even if you feel you are too busy, making time to do that can make all the difference in the world. Think about how it must feel to feel as if you don’t have any friends.6. Ask what can I do? Tell me specifically. I want to help anyway I can. And if the person can’t tell you, have them write it down for you.7. Ask the person on a long walk, a picnic, or other excursion. A lot of disabled people have to do things alone. 8. Scream it out together. Tell the person they have the right to get angry & allow them to vent if they need to.  Don’t tell them to stop the pity party if they need to vent.9. Do you need my support? How can I support you specifically? Tell them to name things. 10. Go to a matinee or rent a movie about their disability. Or go to YouTube or DailyMotion, where you can watch one for free. 11. Sincerely compliment the person.12. Validate. SayThis is a big deal! Give them praise when they do something good. 13. Read personal accounts about living with That disability.14. Say Thank you for confiding in me and trusting me. I am honored to know you.15. Ask them If you are comfortable, can you tell me more about your experience with your disability?16. Invite them on a vacation with you and if you don’t go on vacation invite them to spend the weekend with you for a “vacation”. I went camping this summer & it really helped me in every way possible.16. If you know they have no place to go for the holiday’s, make an effort to invite them over. No one should be alone on the very important holiday’s.17. Offer to be their transportation. That is a big one, especially with all the budget cuts.  I have known people who went without food, meds, ect. because they didn’t have a ride.  18. If you think someone has any condition you should talk to them privately (pride is important) and explain that there is hope for a happy life, and that they dont have to do it alone. 19. If they vent, and it sounds like they are whining or angry or upset, it almost means something is going on with them. It does not mean they are just being grumpy or having a temper tantrum. So an appropriate response would be what can I do to help or give them something to look forward to such as a visit or an outing & that can make all the difference for them. I am talking from experience on that one. I am not saying you should reward bad behavior such as when a child is having a tantrum because he or she didn’t get what they wanted, but giving an autistic person something to look forward to when they are having a very bad day makes a huge difference for them. Believe me, I know.20. Give them opportunities to feel useful. 
Side Note: If you tell someone you have fibromyalgia, diabetes,  heart disease, or depression, people usually don’t ask if you have an official diagnosis. But if you tell someone you have Aspergers or Autism or a Mental Illness, many people want to know how you know for sure. Interesting.

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