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 are talking with Shawna Spain, an autistic ambulatory wheelchair user who wants you to accept that she cannot read your mind—not yet, at least.


What is a small switch in behavior other people can make, to ease your life as an autistic person?

It’s hard to tell what is a small change. I would say, please do not get mad at me when I ask for clarification. I am not challenging you, I want to understand what you are trying to convey and because I have not learned to read minds (YET!) this is how humans do this whole thing, okay. Thanks. But I know how hard it is to just NOT be mad at something, so. Can’t tell if this is a small change or not.

How will this accommodation make your life easier?

I live in a world where Neurotypicals use shorthand which definitions change based on tone, context, and the phase of the moon. So I need to ask questions so I am not guessing, and when I get it wrong reinforcing the world’s silly confirmation bias about autistics. I am NOT stupid. YOU are not being clear enough. That’s not the end of the world—again, no mind reading—so don’t get mad okay, you start communicating with me, then engage all the way. Please.

What is one thing that brings you joy?

Right now I am super into fountain pens because the filling and cleaning of the pens has a lot of routine to it, and the way the ink lays on the paper gives me much tactile feedback joy. Calms me down.