Things You Probably Shouldn’t Say to Autistic People

You don’t look autistic. 

Is autism supposed to have a look?

When somebody says, ‘You don’t look autistic’, it’s fairly obvious they don’t have a buggering clue what autism is!

In all fairness people probably think they are paying me a compliment, sort of, but what they are actually doing is belittling the difficulties that I face on a daily basis and the fact that I have always relied heavily on people, and always will do.

Autism is a neurological difference which affects how I experience the world and how I communicate, and it’s this which makes me stand out, but you cannot tell from looking at someone’s face that they are autistic

You’re obviously high-functioning!

If by high functioning you mean I can speak, get dressed and wipe my own arse, then yes, I can do those things – generally. However, the term ‘highly functioning’ implies that I should be able to ‘do life’ easily, but the reality is that I have mental health issues and a chronic illness which are the result of trying to ‘cope’ with all those aspects of life that most people do with ease. I’ve always found life incredibly hard. I often get overwhelmed, and then I stop functioning aside the very basics needed to keep my family and myself alive. I shut down. I can’t speak. I can’t read beyond a single sentence. I can’t complete simple tasks like washing the dishes or folding laundry. My brain malfunctions, taking days for it to unravel itself and I have to spend hours on my own in order for this to happen.

P.S It’s not uncommon for me to be tucked up in bed before 6pm!

Would you say this is ‘functioning highly’?

This ‘highly functioning’ label is misleading, to say the least, because it over-estimates what autistics like me are capable of. The mental health and chronic illness stats speak for themselves because when the body is continually flooded with stress hormones, it eventually malfunctions, and the result can be catastrophic. Similarly, those autistics who are considered to be ‘low functioning’ are grossly underestimated and their potential is never reached because nothing is ever expected of them.

What’s 97865 multiplied by 98?

Why do some people assume that all autistics are maths geniuses?


(it’s also been suggested to me that I may have Dyscalculia)

My dislike (bordering on the pathological) of mathematics started in 1975 with the words ‘add and take away’, and I’ve been hyperventilating ever since. I can give you the answer to the sum, but I’ll need a calculator. In contrast, my autistic son could recite his entire 12 times table at the age of 4 and he likes maths – the weirdo.

What medication do you take for it?

I don’t take medication for my autism because it’s not an illness. I do, however, take medication for migraines, arthritis and the general aches and pains which comes from being a fibromyalgic old fart!

Autism is an excuse for bad behaviour.

Autistic people don’t choose to have meltdowns. They don’t wake up and think, ‘You know what? I REALLY fancy losing my shit today!’

It’s not a nice feeling to lose control, whether it manifests outwardly or internally. It is a reaction to overwhelming situations and having to use up so much energy trying to survive in an overwhelming world.

It’s EXTREME ANXIETY, not bad behaviour!

My sister’s friend’s brother is autistic and you’re nothing like him.

Firstly, I don’t have the necessary parts to be like your sister’s friend’s brother, as much as I would have preferred to have had a penis instead of a vagina during several phases of my life..

Secondly, no two autistic people are the same – just as no two NT people are the same.

You’re married, can hold down a job, have children. How can you do these things if you’re autistic?

With a great deal of effort, cocker.

I drive as well, fancy that? An autistic person being let loose on the roads? QUELLE HORREUR!

P.S 25 + years of driving. No points. No parking tickets!! Can’t parallel park though, and I’m crap at using a Sat Nav, but throw Dyscalculia into the mix and it might give you an idea of how hard I had to work to be able to drive?

You’ve just been sarcastic. YOU CAN’T BE AUTISTIC!!!!!

I think you’ll find that a lot of autistic people use sarcasm..

You’re a person with autism. You should use first language!

I’m autistic. I am an autistic person.

Here, I can only speak for myself as some autistic people wouldn’t thank you for calling them autistic. They would be up in your face faster than you can blink. Having said that, the majority of autistic people do use the term ‘autistic person’.

You can look me in the eye. YOU CAN’T BE AUTISTIC!!

Technically, I’m looking just above your pupil, but it’s a subtle thing, and you’re unlikely to be aware of it.

Or I’m looking at the floor.

Or out the window..

I spent hours standing in the corner at school for being ‘rude’ and not looking at the teacher. I wasn’t EVER being rude. It’s just that it distressed me to look people in the eye, so technically I was abused by every teacher who ever punished me for not doing it, and on that point I once had the misfortune of ‘tweeting’ to a secondary school teacher who punishes the autistic students who don’t look at him when he’s talking because ‘it’s rude’ and ‘they can’t possibly learn if they’re not looking at him’ blah blah blah..

Excuse me?

I considered it my duty to challenge such blatant arseholery, so I enquired as to whether ‘Sir’ stares at his radio in order to take the information in and do you know what his reaction was?

He blocked me.

This is what we’re up against, folks. No doubt this guy’s autistic students will be in therapy in a few years time, if they’re not already.

I know I am autistic, and the NHS thinks I am too. To my knowledge, the psychiatrist who diagnosed me is skilled in the field of multidisciplinary autism assessment and won’t give out a diagnosis unless she is actually convinced that someone is autistic. To add a little more weight (not that I need to) – I was referred for assessment by an A&E psychiatrist!

Do I have to keep my diagnosis papers on me to prove I’m autistic?!

It would be nice for people to ask questions like, ‘How does autism affect you?’ or ‘How can I support you?’ instead of them questioning my diagnosis as if I’m trying to buy beer with a fake ID.

If I don’t ‘look’ autistic it’s because autism doesn’t have ‘a look’.

The only ‘look’ most of us share is when people say we don’t ‘look’ autistic or we can’t possibly be autistic because we’re married or have a job or can find our way out of the front door..

It looks like this..









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