People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) vary greatly in how they communicate. Some may be extremely articulate and some may be nonverbal. One of the core characteristics of ASD is difficulty understanding social communication and interaction. This may be apparent in the person’s inability to understand facial expressions or filter out unimportant information, which results in sensory overload.
At Flatrock, our care homes house many adults with ASD and we are always working to improve our communications with these residents, who we view as part of our Flatrock family. The Spectrum, an ASD advocacy nonprofit, shares some tips on how to better communicate with adults with ASD:
- Don’t assume a person with ASD has cognitive disabilities. Many with ASD, even those who are nonverbal, possess average or above average intelligence. Address them as you would any adult, never as you would a child.
- Always use their name. Address them by name at the beginning of your communication so they know you are talking to them specifically.
- Make sure they are paying attention. The signs that someone with ASD is paying attention will be different for different people, but ensure they are listening before asking a question or giving an instruction.
- Engage them via their hobbies, interests or the activity they are currently doing.
- Avoid open-ended questions and don’t ask too many questions.
- Say less and say it slowly.
- Say what you mean and be specific. Those with ASD tend to take words literally.
Remember, better communication always results in better results and better relationships!