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 endever* corbin, who needs advance information as sheer cognitive prep!

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

Tell me what to expect in advance! Especially for unfamiliar events… and in more detail than you expect I’ll need. For example, if it’s a social event—who’s planning to be there, how long it will last, what activities will there be, what food will be there?

If it’s an online panel—I need to know the main questions in advance, how to signal that I have something to say, whether there will be a chat box and captions, and whether there will be spontaneous questions from the audience.

If it’s a medical appointment—have I met the provider before, will there be an ASL interpreter, how early should I check in, what will the exam/procedure be like, can I bring my support worker?

How will this accommodation make your life easier?

Some of this information lets me practically prepare—for example planning to bring my own food, scheduling the rest of my day (including recovery time), programming my communication device, scripting in advance, printing out background information a doctor might need, and giving my support worker instructions.

But also, less tangibly, I just often need this kind of information as sheer cognitive prep! Going into a new situation can feel like stepping through a cloud of fog so thick I can’t even see my feet. It’s hard to trust there will even still be ground under them when I take the next step.

But if that fog can thin even a little, so that I can see the ground… And maybe something of what all is on the other side… I’m more likely to be able to step into the cloud with less anxiety, less running into solid objects, less word-stuck, and less misunderstandings.

What is one thing that brings you joy?

Dollar store stim toys!

A symbol and text-to-speech devices with a grid of icons. At the top, words read, "Tell me what to expect in advance!"
A symbol and text-to-speech devices with a grid of icons. At the top, words read, “Tell me what to expect in advance!”