--What would help? What are YOUR goals? When you were growing up and learning to use your neurovariant brain/body, what would have made that easier? What things do you know now that you wish someone had taught you a lot sooner?--
If others DON'T want to read everything, read this paragraph at least!!! If someone stutters, uses multiple languages in odd ways, or just speaks their native language in an atypical fashion, restate what they say to make sure you understand what that other person is saying. Language access may NOT be what you're accustomed to and that person may be trying as hard as they can. Second problem occurring to me that's not often stated is that 9 out of 10 on the autism spectrum have gastrointestinal problems. What those specific problems ARE is as broad as the spectrum itself, but if they say they can't eat X, have to have medicine at specific times before or after a meal, or have other issues with food, please don't pick on them, or otherwise think you can "fix" it. Even if exposure to our triggers may not kill us, we just may have to take over your bathrooms for hours because of your "help". Search Autism and intestinal flora or biome, the new information coming out is fascinating, sometimes like watching poisonous snakes for me. :-/
I was almost in shock for a few days, or at least nonverbal on this subject. You're right, nobody asks these questions, and I, at least, have gotten so accustomed to the LACK of asking I really had to think about this. I'm high functioning autistic or Asperger's syndrome, hyperlexile, but display my meltdowns as shutdowns usually.
--What would help?-- Mostly acceptance, I think. People usually think "Autism" as only the ones who are nonverbal, but can't recognize how VARIANT neurovariant people really can be. Autism SPECTRUM fits it well, because it is a really broad range.
--What are YOUR goals?-- Thud as I fall over in shock, very few ask about my goals. ;-) Autism is an odd word for it to me. Auto, self, right Ysabet and thnidu, but I can't SEE, HEAR, or GET where I'm setting people off without others' reactions to me. No man is an island, not even the autistic. :-/ My goals, lately, are reestablishing enough 'people patterns" that I can understand, again, what I'm doing when I interact with people. For me, autism is trying to draw a picture with my hands in a box so I can't see what I'm drawing. My husband can give me coloring pages with raised edges so I can FEEL where the outlines are and I can color in the lines well enough to pass for most people. Another friend of mine can remove one side of the box, hold up a mirror, and let me SEE what I'm drawing. You can try that though, it's still hard as hell. :-/
--When you were growing up and learning to use your neurovariant brain/body, what would have made that easier?-- Encouragement to TRY different sports is something that occurs to me. It doesn't matter that I will NEVER be a champion swimmer or figure skater, the effort and practice involved gives me a better sense of my body. I may never do the showy jumps and spins, but I can catch something falling off the table without hurting myself now. It takes WORK to find all my parts and reflexes need much more work than many people. Again, for those dealing with those younger on the spectrum: watch carefully for signs of gastrointestinal problems. Mine didn't display until I was 16, my family and I just thought of my reactions as a mild food allergy, and I wasn't diagnosed with eosinophilic gastroenteritis until I was 23. It took YEARS to get triggers identified after all the damage done, and a medicine and food avoidance therapy that would work for me.
--What things do you know now that you wish someone had taught you a lot sooner?-- If I only knew then, the things I know now? :-)
1. Write things down, or type it, or draw it, or whatever works for me. I can type reasonably well, but I'm dysgraphic and my handwriting never improved over my 3rd grade level. Short term memory can be an issue, especially if there's an emotional content.
2. Support matters. Ok, I understand emotional support matters to most to some extant, but with all my immediate family deaths and my medical problems, I've been drowning in too much noise, not enough backup, many fewer people to ask what I need help with and NOT even able to realize I would ask my mom about this, mom's dead now for 8 years, who do I ask now?
3. I had informal support in school, since my autism wasn't identified. I WAS, however, identified young as "gifted" and "sensitive" and that got me a certain allowance from the teachers and sometimes lunchtime or afterschool help with how to deal with people, and in high school the dysgraphia and dyspraxia were identified. My accommodations for those were being permitted to use the computers for my essays, and since that's when I started having difficulties with physical education teachers, my heart condition was a factor enough that got me a gym excuse. ;-) Up until then, gym teachers weren't asking me to win, or get skilled at any sports, just keep trying. Others were running laps, I had my NY strut fast walk for my laps, same time duration. I still think the batter hitting a ball is accomplishing an impossible feat by physics and biology, but just by my biological limitations. :-)
4. Same idea, different application: encourage trying a variety of arts and crafts. I can't knit or crochet with those sticks, but I can latch hook and use knitting and weaving looms. I can sew with a machine enough to make historical clothing that passes, if not completely authentic, and make skating dresses, a different set of sewing skills with stretchy fabrics. I can't draw people, but I can make perspective drawings of your house or a skyline. When on corticosteroids to get some pain inflammation down, I made all the house potholders on a kid level potholder loom just to keep the rage down. I enjoy coloring books, and am working on some window paints to paint a stained glass look on our picture window.
5. Those on the autism spectrum may need specific help with figuring out sex, gender, identity, and relationship issues. I have been manipulated because of my autism and our culture's inability to deal with these in a rational manner. I may be a genius, but I got stuck with losers because who would put up with me and my issues?
6. Find out what soothes YOU, keep it with you, and write the list down. I have specific snacks and drink packets, one of those migraine balms with lavender, and I just ordered noise canceling headphones to put in a soft bag in my large purse that will get a gold puzzle piece as an applique.