*and you aren't.
When someone chooses to share their identity as an autistic individual with you, it's a moment of trust and vulnerability. Responding with empathy and understanding can strengthen your connection with them. Here are five supportive ways to respond when someone tells you they're autistic:
1. That's Lit / Fire / Cool / Rad
Expressing genuine enthusiasm and acceptance is essential. Use contemporary slang that resonates with your generation to convey that you value and appreciate their openness. Remember, being autistic is a significant part of their identity, and acknowledging it positively can set the tone for the conversation.
2. Thank You
Gratitude goes a long way. Thank the person for entrusting you with this important aspect of their life. You might want to inquire whether they've shared this information with others or if it's something they typically keep private. Respecting their wishes and privacy demonstrates your consideration for their feelings. Some people may not be ready to share with others yet, and you don't want to accidentally let the information out before they are ready.
3. I Don't Know About Autism / Tell Me More
Honesty is key. If you're unfamiliar with autism, it's ok to say so. Everyone's experience with autism is unique, so avoid making assumptions based on other autistic individuals you've encountered. Invite them to share their own experiences, challenges, and strengths. Expressing a willingness to learn demonstrates your commitment to understanding them better.
4. How Can I Help?
Offer your support by asking how you can best accommodate their needs. Autistic individuals may have specific preferences, such as structured plans or limited surprises. Inquire about their comfort zones and how you can be a considerate friend. It's important to establish open communication about boundaries so that you can provide meaningful support.
5. I'm Here for You / This Deepens Our Connection
Reassure them of your continued friendship and commitment. Acknowledge that sharing this aspect of their life strengthens your bond and shows your genuine care. Emphasize your interest in getting to know them on a deeper level and express your willingness to share more about yourself as well.
Responding supportively when someone reveals they're autistic is about showing respect, willingness to learn, and a genuine desire to strengthen your connection. By using positive language, expressing gratitude, and offering assistance, you can create an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding that benefits both you and your friend.