Don’t assume things about autistic people.

Every day, we assume things about other people. We look at how other people act, and then we judge them. For example, someone might not make eye contact, so we assume they are lying. Someone might be frowning, so we assume they are upset. Someone might put their head on the table, so we assume they are tired. Someone might face away from us when we are talking, so we assume they aren’t listening.

But people do things for lots of different reasons. If someone doesn’t make eye contact, they might not like eye contact, or they could be blind. If someone is frowning, that might just be how their face looks, or they might be happy, but not be able to smile. If someone puts their head on the table, they might be dizzy, or they might not have strong neck muscles. If someone faces away from us when we are talking, they might be shy, or they might focus better if they aren’t looking at you.

Non-autistic people assume things about us from how we act, and that’s a big problem! Autistic people experience the world differently than other people, and that means we might act differently than others. Or, we might do the same thing as other people, but for different reasons.

Everyone has reasons for doing what they do, so don’t assume all those reasons are the same for everyone. You might not trust someone because they don’t make eye contact. You might get mad at someone for frowning when they should be happy. These things happen to autistic people all the time. They don’t happen because people are trying to be mean to us, but they happen because people assume things about us.

An ally tries not to assume things. Try to notice when you assume things about people. If you see someone talking to themselves, what do you think? If you see someone stimming, what do you think? If you see someone having a meltdown, what do you think? This can help you assume things less.

There’s only one way to know why someone acts how they do, and that way is to ask them! Ask us if you aren’t sure why we do certain things.