Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.
Adults with Autism can find themselves to be quite vulnerable in today’s society, this could be because they don’t always understand “social norms” the “dos and don’ts”.
There are a lot of hidden rules in terms of been socially accepted, keep eye contact, say please and thank you, don’t shout, don’t offend anyone blah blah blah.
What really are those hidden rules and why does it make autistic adults vulnerable ?
- Treat people in authority with respect (police officers, Teachers, CEO of a company or your Boss) – People say you would not speak to you boss the same way you would speak to your friedns ie you would not say to your Boss you alright mate how’s your love life. Or you would not say something inappropriate to a police officer, This could get you in trouble or cause evan more problems.
- Not everyone you don’t know are strangers you can’t trust. You might not know your hairdresser but you can trust them to cut your hair, you might not know the police officer who is speaking to you but they are there to help you. Strangers danger should not and does not apply all the time.
- It would not be acceptable to walk around naked in someone else’s house, it might be OK in your own home but when out in public it’s not OK. Just because something is OK to do in one place and because you have done it before, it doesn’t mean it’s OK to do it somewhere else.
- Some people do not always need or want to know the honest truth when they ask you a questions, “do I look fat in this outfit” even if you think they do it would not be nice to say “yes you look fat”
- People or places don’t always follow same rules, one restaurant you could sit down and wait to be served and another could be where you pick what you want and order at the bar. Just because one place does it one way doesn’t mean other places do it that way too – Same goes for people, one person could like gaming and another might not don’t assume because you like it and another person you spoke to likes it thay everyone likes it.
- It is impolite to interrupt someone when he or she is talking, the art of conversation is to speak and wait for a reply once you have the reply you then reply and so on.
Above are some examples of the hidden rules of “social interaction” but if it’s not written down how do we know them ?
How do Neuro-typical (non autistic) people already know these hidden rules and why do they find it so hard to understand why people with autism don’t know them ?
Social interaction starts at a young age, Socialising with your parents, other siblings or other children at nursery. It’s clear that autistic children struggle with Socialising and communication from a young age, maybe this is why autistic people don’t know the hidden rules, maybe at a young age you join a club what teaches you the rules. Obviously that’s not ture but you might be starting to get my point, who made these rules and how do some people already know them and others don’t?
Adults with Autism that do not know these hidden rules could find themselves in some scary situations :
A police officer arresting a young man for drinking on the street – well the young man drinks on outside his house and that’s OK so why cant he in the street in town.
Someone comes up to you and says “hey mate you alright can you give me £30 please?” We all know not to give strangers money, but some autistic people want friends so much thay they would give them it as they think there mates.
The National Autistic Society (UK) says:
Without understanding, autistic people and families are at risk of being isolated and developing mental health problems.
34% of children on the autism spectrum say the worst thing about being at schools is being picked on.
63% of children on the autism spectrum are not in any kind of school their parents believe would best support them.
17% of autistic children have been suspended from school; 48% of these has been suspended three or more times; 4% had been expelled from one or more schools.
70% of autistic adults say thay they are not getting the help they need from.social services.
70% also told us thay with more support they would feel less isolated.
At least 1 in 3 autistic adults are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
Only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment, and only.32% are in some kind of paid work.
Only 10% of autistic adults receive employment support but 53% say they want it.
From the statement above you can see the issues are :
Autistic people who don’t get early intervention and learn the “social norms” seem to be ignored, isolated and vulnerable in adult life.
Social skills training and life skills should be an education must and should be offered from an early age, to prevent autistic people from becoming socially isolated and protect them from exploitation.
Before we come to the end of this blog I interviewed a young man with Autism and asked him some questions his answers are listed below.
What is it like to have Autism?
Its hard having Autism as it makes you feel different to everyone else. It takes me longer to think and process what people have said to me, It’s evan harder when people don’t understand me and bully me for having a disability.
What things in life do you find challenging?
- Budgeting – Because some weeks I run out of money as I can not prioritise what is important for me to spend my money on.
- Body language – I don’t always see when people are upset and I can make them evan more upset
- Boundaries – I don’t recognise when I am making people feel uncomfortable when I am getting to close or randomly hugging them
- Socialising – because I get to hyper i can say and do things that I don’t mean
- Life’s skills – I’m not sure how to do the basic house stuff like clean and look after a house, I could learn If i was shown ( my Pa shows me now)
What does good support look like for you?
Good in my opinion, is where the person been supported is treat well and cared about. Their wants and wishes are respected, the support worker is always ontime and is professional but down to earth.
How does the support you receive improve your life?
The support I receive allows me to feel wanted and loved, it makes me feel secure in life and empowers me to do different things. It promotes my confidence and boosts my positive mind set. Gives me chance to be myself and be safe, its also good because I get help with life skills.
Tell me about a situation that made you feel vulnerable?
I was at college and the people on my course bullied me, I was walking to the bus stop one day and two lads from my group followerd me they shouted abuse at me and threatened me. I got very angry and started shouting back at them. I felt very helpless and I could have got hurt, I am not sure what I did wrong to deserve this treatment.
Now you know somethings about Autism, vulnerability and prevention. Ask yourself this what am I going to do today to make someone’s life with Autism better.
Thanks for Reading,
Peace out peeps