Or do they??
As it's #AutismAwarenessWeek I thought I'd share some insights. I hope you find them useful. Let me know your thoughts 😊
The photo shows two Autistic ADHDers (my son and me).
Adam attends a specialist school for boys, many of whom are Autistic. At lunchtime today, we received a message from school that a local power outage meant school had to close and parents needed to collect the boys.
For both of us, this was an unplanned change to our day.
I collected Adam and another boy who lives close to us. On a normal day, they would both be watching videos on their phones and ignoring me completely. Today they wanted to tell me about the power cut - how it was 'absolute chaos' and the boys were all 'panicking'. Some of them had to go outside to get some fresh air to help them calm down.
I asked open questions so they were able to talk out their emotions. I didn't judge them or ask them to rationalise the situation because their perception was their reality.
My perception was different. The boys explained that when the power cut occurred, they were taken to their house rooms with the house tutors and waited there while school arranged collections. While school couldn't cook lunch, they provided snacks. As parents arrived, support staff collected the boys from the house rooms. It was well organised and the boys' welfare and safety was top priority.
The anxiety arose from the unexpected change at a school where routine is key.
I run my own business, work from home and didn't have meetings planned this afternoon, so I was able to drive over to school to collect the boys. I'll need to fit in the time I lost but that's ok. The change in routine didn't throw me today.
In fact, a lot of my projects involve helping other business owners to drive change in their businesses. I love change in that regard, exploring possibilities and finding different ways to do things.
But I also like stability in my environment. I like to be in control of the changes.
I like surprises - when it's something like a bunch of flowers (hint hint if hubby is reading this post 😉) but I wouldn't like a surprise day out because I need to plan things and to understand where I'm going, how I'll get there, what it will look like. I'll ask lots of questions to make sure I have the details that make me feel comfortable.
My attention to detail means I'm great at organising events as I think of everything - literally!
And in a crisis situation, when you'd think I'd be useless as that's a massive unplanned change, I come into my own. I'm level-headed, pragmatic and get things sorted out.
So, if you're working with Autistic people, think about change and the impact it might have. See if you can provide information in advance and answer any questions. And if there is an unexpected change, look out for signs that someone might need extra time and help to process it - which could be as simple as listening without judgement if they want to talk about it.