Tips for Neurotypicals [source: National Autistic Society, UK]

Autistic people can get overloaded by everything around them. It’s like all the senses are firing, all at once. Like there’s no filter. Like they’re getting too much information.

And that makes the world a terrifying, isolating place. But it doesn’t have to be like this. One small change from you could help to reduce the overload.

Whether you’re at the shops, on public transport, at work or out with friends, a change as simple as using clear language, having a bit of patience, or avoiding last minute changes can really help. Understand autism, the person, and the change you can make.


What is a meltdown?

A meltdown is when an autistic person gets overwhelmed by everything around them, and may begin to shout, scream, cry or lose control.

What can I do?

Spare a moment. First things first- try not to judge. Be patient, calmly ask if they’re OK and give them some time and space to recover. That really is all it takes to help.

Unexpected changes

What’s meant by ‘unexpected changes’?

The world can be an unpredictable, confusing place for autistic people, and that makes a set routine crucial for getting by. So when something unexpected still happens, it can feel like the whole world is spinning out of control.

What can I do?

Give some warning. The best way for an autistic person to deal with unexpected changes is to, well, expect them! So if plans do change, let them know in advance. A little notice and understanding can go a long way.

Social anxiety

What is it?

Trying to understand what others mean and how to behave can be exhausting and stressful for autistic people, causing many to end up feeling excluded and isolated.

What can I do?

Take an interest. Invite them to join in as much as they feel they want to. And if they’re struggling, just offer some support. A little really can go a long way.

Processing time

What is it?

Sometimes people with autism feel like they’re getting ‘too much information’ and need a few moments to filter through it all. This is called processing time.

What can I do?

Give a minute. Ask one question as simply as you can, and just wait. If you still don’t get a response, try rephrasing it or writing it down instead.

Sensory overload

What is it?

People with autism can be sensitive to lights, sounds, smells and sights. This can lead to an overload – and a meltdown.

What can I do?

Make some space. Lots of little things can add up to an overload of sensory information. Which means little things from you can cut this down- try to avoid talking over each other, turn down your music, or even just offer to dim glaring lights.

#Mark Taylor

#Canberra Psychologist

#Mark Taylor Psychologist

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