We’re honoring Autism Acceptance by publishing April Accommodations—meaning adjustments that other people can do for the autistic people in their lives. (For the flipside, as in things that make life harder for autistics, please see our Autism Checklist of Doom.)
Today, we’re hearing from Rhi Lloyd-Williams, who wants people to stop second-guessing what she tells them. She means what she means!
What is a small switch in behavior other people can make, to ease your life as an autistic person?
Listen. It sounds really obvious and really easy, but it still seems to be something that people find hard to do. When I tell you something I’m quite straightforward—particularly when I’m under stress. If I tell you I need something, listen. Don’t look for the body language to back it up, don’t try to second-guess if I really mean something different that I haven’t asked for, don’t ask me to justify and explain my needs in a way that you can understand, when you don’t share my difficulties. I might not have the energy to communicate your way, can we please communicate my way for a little bit?
How will this accommodation make your life easier?
Listening makes a difference in so many ways. It applies when I’m in pain—the more pain I’m in the more direct I will be:
- When I’m at work, yes I can do lots of things, but I will always need time to shift gears between tasks—or socialising.
- Yes, I do need to go, I’ve reached my limits and will be risking not having enough processing power to get home safely if I don’t leave now.
The first time I was in a group of autistic people and one said, “I just need to be alone for a bit, I’m going for a quick walk,” it was such a relief. No excuses, no justifications, just expressed needs and understanding. Bliss. Just because non-autistic people don’t say what they mean, doesn’t mean I won’t.
What is one thing that brings you joy?
Being creative is the purest form of problem-solving that I know. From spreadsheets to poetry to woodwork, when I’m creating and learning new skills I am at my happiest. All the noise in my brain switches off and all there is is the task at hand. It’s so peaceful and energising all at once. There’s nothing like those moments of perfect flow.