The Autistic Lens


Punk Writes

The Wrong Question

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

So, I've seen a bit of a trend in a lot of the groups I'm in where there are caregivers / parents / family members of people who are autistic, asking for advice. And the trend I notice, is the question being asked.

"How do we make [Autistic Person]'s behavior better?" or "How do we deal with [Autistic Person]'s reactions to X, Y, and Z?"

While I can understand those questions, I personally believe you're asking the wrong one first.

Don't ask HOW.

Ask WHY.

WHY is this person acting this way, WHAT is causing them to react to their environment or situation the way they are? Examine things from an Autistic perspective, it could be sensory overload, emotional overload, anxiety, hunger, thirst; SO many things can factor into it. But, when you focus only on fixing the behavior, masking it, instead of helping find out what's causing it and why, and solving the issue there, you're actually putting [Autistic Person] through possibly more stress and might even make things worse for them.

Yes, I understand, this person might be "non-verbal". But, are they ACTUALLY non-verbal, or do they just have difficulty communicating verbally? Maybe they communicate better through typing, through text to speech devices, or maybe, just maybe, their "behaviors" themselves ARE communications, and they ARE trying to talk to you, but you just aren't listening to them. You can hear them, and you see them, but you're not really listening to them.

This isn't your fault if you didn't think of things this way, it's not a bad thing; how could you know? Without someone telling you this, why would you think that way in the first place, unless you go through it yourself? That's why listening to people who are #ActuallyAutistic is so important. We kind of know what we're talking about when it comes to these things.

We live it every day. It's life for us. It's not a bad thing normally, not to us, it's just how life is for us, how we experience the world. If one person who's Autistic sees other in discomfort, the first thing they ask is normally "Why are you stressed, what is causing you this discomfort?", because that is what we also wish people asked us when we're overwhelmed.

So please, before you start going to "fixing [Autistic Person]'s behaviors", first ask yourself,

Do you know WHY they're doing those behaviors?

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