Fourteen Things Not to Say to an Autistic Adult


Last night somebody shared an article on Facebook. The article was called “Things never to say to parents of a child with autism.” A comment on the article asked why there wasn’t one about things not to say to an autistic adult. I decided to write that article. It’s based on not only my experience, but also the experiences of my autistic friends.

1) “You don’t look autistic.”

My response to this would be something along the lines of what Gloria Steinem said when people told her she “looked good for 50.” She said, “This is what 50 looks like.” I say, “This is what autism looks like.” However, what I’d like to say is: “I don’t look autistic, and you don’t look ignorant. I guess we’re both wrong.”

I don’t know what people who say this mean when they say I don’t look autistic. What does autism look like?…

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2 thoughts on “Fourteen Things Not to Say to an Autistic Adult

  1. They don’t look any different to anyone else. Many misconceptions abound re Autism, e.g. they aren’t all ‘Rain Men’ and a number don’t communicate on many levels. They tend to be very direct people. My son is Autstic and will often walk up to people asking why are they smoking or fat ! it can get you in trouble defending them ! His current gripe is anyone who coughs or clears their throat he will get quite angry with people who do that. Curiously this is about the only time you will see him communicate in full flow, other times he just won’t talk to you at all. People’s ignorance we cannot allow for, the same people who say ‘you don’t look deaf or disabled..’ I simply respond you look normal but what do I know….

  2. I’m on board with most of this but #5 makes me cringe because it doesn’t challenge the idea that it is better to not have an intellectual disability an while the author challenges the r-word, they do so solely on the grounds that it’s an insult and not why it’s considered an insult which reinforces negative stereotypes of intellectual disability.

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