Understanding Autism: Caring for People with Autism

Autism is when your brain functions differently than that of other people. It is something that you are born with, though some people are not diagnosed until much later in life. It can have an impact on how you communicate, think, and function on a daily basis. Things that may seem insignificant, such as expressing emotions, may not come naturally to someone with autism. However, it is important to note that the condition may affect each individual in different ways; some can live their lives without assistance, while others require daily care. Some people may even discover that their autistic characteristics are a source of strength! So, as healthcare workers, how can we make a more inclusive environment for someone with autism?



Communication can be especially challenging. This varies depending on whether you’re writing or speaking. One may be able to express themselves more effectively in one way but not in another. Due to this, it is important to remain patient and open-minded to different methods of communication.

In one research study, they found writing is preferred as it provides room to think and structure what to say. It can also be done in quieter or more familiar environments where they may feel less distracted or overwhelmed by what is going on around them.

Maintaining precise language in both verbal and written communication may also be useful to avoid misinterpretation.



Sensory Sensitivity

Light, sound, smell, touch, taste… too many of these in one place can be incredibly overwhelming for those with autism. This may make it harder to focus as they can’t filter out the information as easily. It is important to ensure the environment is as accessible as possible.

  • Wherever possible, reduce bright lights and background noise.
  • Be aware of crowded spaces.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature.
  • Consider providing ear defenders.
  • Stay away from strong perfumes.

Creating a sensory map for a building that considers all these factors could be beneficial because it allows them to better navigate where to go to avoid trigger areas.



Need for Routine 

With all these extra things to consider when living with autism. It’s understandable that people living with autism prefer consistency and routine. By reducing unpredictability in a day, they may feel more in control, possibly even allowing for preparation for times that may be particularly difficult for the individual. The reliance on routine can vary, but any unexpected changes can cause stress if not handled properly:

  • Ensuring effective communication of the change can help give the individual time to prepare.
  • Provide structure and highlight a process so the person knows what to expect.
  • Incorporate something familiar to provide comfort and ease the transition into something new.



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