Autism: I don't know anything
I consider myself a very intelligent person. I've lived in Germany, Canada, China and the USA. I have an MBA in Brand Management, a Public Relations degree and have worked in many great companies with excellent people. But I must confess that I have never met, or at least, spent time with someone with autism. At least to my knowledge.
So my perspective is how do I treat or what do I do when I meet a person with autism?
Scenario one: I'm walking through a park or along the street and I meet a person with autism. How should I act, react or engage that person? What are some signs that I should look for that would tell me this person has autism? How would I know if he/she needs help or is just fine? Who would I contact if I feel the person is lost, disoriented or seems vulnerable in some way?
Scenario two: I'm asked to volunteer with a group of adults or kids with autism. What should I expect? How will I be treated but more important how should I treat them?
Scenario three: I come across an accident where the autistic persons caregiver is hurt. Obviously I must call for help but what does the autistic person need while I'm providing help to the caregiver before the ambulance arrives and then afterwards?
Obviously these three scenarios are made up and may never occur, but they do open up questions that a person unfamiliar with an autistic persons behavior might want to have answers to. In any case, they provide a non-autistic group with real questions and hopefully answers that would help them navigate each of the above and other scenarios.
In today's society we consider ourselves intelligent and sophisticated, ever learning and all-wise. Yet in some subcultures, like that of Autistic individuals, their view of us may be completely different. They may look at the world we live in differently, which can be very enlightening and beautiful. Instead of taking a world trip to find yourself or feel something different, try spending time with another human being who sees the world a bit different than you. What you may find or realize is that their view or concept of the wonderful world around us may be far better than our own. Nothing brings more happiness to a person than serving another, autistic or not.
Dave Hennessey loves to travel. You can see more about his adventures at the following locations: