One way people learn is from consequences. For example, if you leave your car parked outside with the windows down and it rains, the natural consequence is that your car seats will get wet. Sometimes a person with authority over another engineers a consequence for certain behaviors as a way to decrease the frequency of unwanted behaviors. For example, a mother or a caregiver might decide that if hitting occurs at the park there will be no going to the park for the next two weeks. This sort of engineered consequence for unwanted behavior works for most people most of the time. It is why we use it to successfully teach our children to become responsible citizens – responsible for themselves, their behavior, their belongings and beyond. These kinds of consequences rarely work well for individuals with autism.
Accommodations are something provided by law to people with disabilities. It is easy for people to understand physical accommodations such as wheelchairs and curb cuts. It is much more difficult for people to understand accommodations when it involves sensory and processing differences such as those common to autistic people.
Please know that the behavior of people with autism makes sense in the context of their experience of the world around them. Because typical people do not share our context they are not often able to assign correct meaning and motivation to some of our behavior. They do their best by assigning meaning to our behavior based on what the behavior would mean were they themselves engaged in it the behavior. Often they arrive at wrong conclusions. Sometimes they even assign negative character traits to us based on their wrong conclusions.
Awareness means we know what is hard for us. As we grow up autistic we are measured against the yardstick of “normal” in many ways over and over. Thus, autistic children often have a keen sense of who they are NOT. This deficit-based understanding may be necessary in the diagnostic realm, but it does little to support a healthy lifestyle. Who we ARE in this world – our abilities, strengths and interests – provide us with a satisfying life because that is the way it is with human beings. And yes, autistic people regardless how autistic you think they may or may not be, are ALL human beings. This means ALL autistics have intrinsic value.
For many years having friends eluded me. I find that to be true with many teen and young adult autistics. If you are in that predicament I encourage you to hang in there because it does get better over time.
One of the hardest things we have going against us as autistics is that it is generally non-autistics who try to help us to have friends. The only way they know how to help is to try to get us to make friendships work in the way they make them work based on the way their neuromajority thinking and interfacing with others and with the world work for them. Many times this is a big enough mismatch for autistics as not to work in our lives. When this happens we often blame ourselves. Here is something I came to understand in my 40’s. I share it in hopes it will be helpful to others.