Autism is a complex neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate and relate to other people. At the core of autism is difficulty with social relationships.
Autism is marked by repetitive behaviors and the need for routines; autism spectrum disorders can range from mild to severe and is a life-long condition.
Speak directly to the individual with autism, as you would approach any other customer. Just keep in mind, though, he/she may not respond.
Many individuals with autism are non-verbal or their speech can be hard to understand, so they may communicate through their parents or with communications devices. Be prepared for:
Because they have problems with communication, individuals with autism often have difficulties with social interactions. We encourage you and your staff to engage individuals with autism, but don't be offended if they do not respond or respond inappropriately. Individuals with autism may repeat what you just said, which is called echolalia. If you ask, "How are you today?," they may respond with, "How are you today?" Go ahead and answer them. You will help them learn the appropriate response.
During stressful and unfamiliar situations, individuals with autism may exhibit unusual or repetitive behaviors. These behaviors may be a result of their inability to effectively communicate and/or regulate sensory input. So, it just takes them longer to adjust to a new environment. The more times families expose persons with autism to outings in the community, and the more predictable the outings become, the less anxious they will become and they will have the opportunity to learn appropriate behaviors. Environmental issues that can cause sensory challenges include:
Individuals with autism may use these behaviors as coping mechanisms:
Although these behaviors may be distracting, they are usually soothing and harmless. If, however you are not sure how to react, just remain calm. Usually the parent will know just what to do. If it is an individual, ask them if you can be of assistance then just give them the space and time they need to regroup. Remember that individuals with autism are very routine driven. They just need to adjust to new environments so they can learn to try new things and gain new experiences so they can become more independent.
To make persons with autism feel more at ease about trying to communicate, consider the following:
To make persons with autism feel more comfortable in social situations, consider the following:
Families affected by autism face many challenges, but one of the most debilitating is the process of taking their loved one out in public. A simple trip to the grocery store, a nearby restaurant, movie theater or clothing store is never simple for families with autism. Individuals with autism have potential difficulties with:
These challenges - either alone or in combination - can result in crying, hand-flapping, pacing, running, or other coping skills.