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Dos and Don'ts of Communicating with Children with Autism

Children with autism are as individual as any other and there aren’t any set rules of how to interact with them. But there are some general aspects that must be considered. This involves learning what not to do with an autistic child and what can help to promote healthy interactions. 1. Acceptance is key Accept the child the way they are right now and show them respect. They are nothing but just like the rest of us. 2. Choose your words wisely Avoid using offensive terms like 'retarded' or 'my autistic friend', instead say 'my friend who has autism'. Refer to the individual first and then the condition. 3. Encourage friendships A few children with autism may seem disinterested in spending time or may react to friendly overtures with silence. Talk to them and indulge in the activities they like. 4. Understanding behaviour It’s normal to be taken aback by the unusual behaviours. But familiarising yourself with the behaviour of a child with autism will help you understand their actions. 5. Be emphatic Approach them with humility. Be willing to learn about them, what they like and dislike, what helps and hurts them, what's best for them and so on. 6. Don't advice parents regarding autism Unless you’re a trained professional, resist the temptation to give advice regarding autism. It could cause more harm to already overburdened parents. Children with autism can lead normal, independent and healthy lives with the right intervention and therapies. Like all children, they also deserve kindness, respect and right to live with normalcy.

Dr. Pratima Giri

Consultant Developmental Pediatrician

Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills