I am freinds with a few people who have autistic family members. My heart never fails to go out to these sweet people. But I dont know enough about their issues to communicate properly with them. Example: 'Mary' comes to our church with her 15 year old autistic son, 'Joe'. Joe does not speak, and he does not smile. But he will take my hand when I say hello, sometimes he will pull me into a hug, and other times he will take me by the hand to show me something that he thinks is important, like a flower, or a bug. Mary is a very sweet woman who allows me to be a friend to Joe. When he shows me things, all I know to say is 'Yes, Joe, that is a very pretty flower'. Things like that. Another lady I know is older, and is mostly nonfunctional (she is in a wheelchair) but she will smile at me when I say hello, and will use a voice response board to answer me if i ask her how she is. She always seems to be a happy person, in her own way. Is there anything else I could or should do when I'm around these people?
In autism emotional connection and social interaction is not very good. So, if these people are communicating then this is really good. You can be just your normal self and talk to them as you would with any other person. Return their hug, appreciate the things they show, talk to them in general and treat them as you would treat others without autism. However, yes, you need to be sensitive to their needs and to any communication gaps that may arise. Joe’s mother can also help you in this. Hope this helps. Take care!
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