Not everyone with autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed with it. Symptoms and actions vary from person to person. You may knowingly choose to spend your life with someone with this condition or they may be diagnosed later in life. Either way, there are at least seven ways you can help your partner communicate and respond during everyday activities.
7 essential communication tips
- Forgive misunderstandings and ask the same of others. Any form of autism is hidden within the body. Since no one can see it, people can easily be hurt or confused by your partner’s actions and comments. If your partner hurts your feelings, forgive him or her. Any slight or unkind comment is nearly always unintentional. Support your partner by forgiving and forgetting hurtful actions. Explain that autism spectrum disorder can cause a person to avoid normal social gatherings because of added stress. Letting family and friends know that unfriendly behavior is unintentional will also help you cope with the situation.
- Communicate so you understand one another. Your partner usually cannot understand how you feel and what you are thinking. Be open and explain yourself clearly. It isn’t fair to expect someone with autism to identify what sort of response you are looking for. Your partner seldom understands emotions and may not understand what you really need is a hug. Likewise, if you don’t understand what’s being said, ask for more information. Riddles and jokes are hard to fit in a conversation when someone has autism. You can help avoid confusion and hurt feelings by confirming the conversation is clear to all concerned.
- Be flexible and explain. Your partner’s needs are hard to identify. Perhaps you enjoy watching a movie on television while he or she prefers to listen to soft music. Favorite activities differ in any relationship. It is more intensive when an individual has difficulty socializing or becomes belligerent about doing something that interferes with other plans. Discuss the situation with your partner or write down what you want to explain. Reading the points you want to make and the reasons for actions is frequently a more effective way to communicate. Let friends know that it is okay to change plans to avoid a confrontation.
- Establish a manageable schedule. It’s easier for your partner to review a list of daily activities. Include the time for each meal and any special activities, such as a trip to the park or library. A stable routine is important. Reduce the risk of an argument by discussing changes with your partner well in advance and talking about it up until the day it happens.
- Ask for kindness. Your partner’s autism spectrum disorder interferes with the ability to express regret or deliver comfort when you or another person needs it. Social cues that draw automatic responses from most people often fail to elicit a response from someone with autism. Ask friends to be kind when discussing things with your partner and not get impatient. If you feel too upset to talk over something at the moment, wait until you calm down and can speak with your partner without criticizing or losing control.
- Be kind, not bossy. Remember your partner is an adult. It accomplishes little to reprimand him or her for ignoring a conversation or changing the TV channel in the middle of a show. Help by being a buffer between your partner and others who are unfamiliar with autism.
- Seek help for the two of you. A professional familiar with autism spectrum disorder can help your partner understand the importance of various social skills. You can also pick up more tips for understanding and improving your relationship.