What can I do to support an autistic person experiencing too much information? Read how our pledges were designed to reduce the overload.

“What can we do to help?”

We heard it loud and clear. It’s not easy telling people exactly what is useful behaviour for an autistic person experiencing too much information. Every autistic person is different, and as such, the advice we provide on how best to behave to help an autistic person is often, “ask what works for them”.

But after one year of talking to the public about how autism can affect people, we heard one question over and over again. It was heartening. People are good. People want to help. We wanted to provide some tangible advice for them.

We wanted something for everyone. We wanted to provide pledges that could apply to as many people and situations as possible.

We at The National Autistic Society are proud to be one of the foremost providers of autism information in the world. Our Autism Helpline answers over 16,000 phone calls every year, advising autistic people and their families on a number of issues. We gathered together this wealth of information and started to focus on specific scenarios autistic people often face in public.

We framed it around specific locations – at the shops, on public transport, at work – places autistic people often face a lack of understanding. This way we could make these pieces of advice as tangible and real as possible. They’re based on real situations autistic people commonly face, and are designed to help the majority of autistic people.

Wanting to be sure that our advice was authentic, we then took these ‘pledges’ to a group of autistic people to consider. After much reviewing, refining and voting for the most valuable pieces of advice amongst autistic people, we came up with our top three.

To truly know what works for each autistic person, you need only to ask them.

We wanted something for everyone. Whether you’re autistic yourself, the parent of an autistic child, the parent of a neurotypical child, a colleague, or just someone out and about - we wanted to provide pledges that could apply to as many people and situations as possible.

Just one thing. One thing a person could remember to do which helps to reduce the overload.

Of course, with 18 pledges this could never be an exhaustive list. To truly know what works for each autistic person, you need only to ask them. But we wanted a starting point. A guide for what is good behaviour. After all, what’s useful behaviour for autistic people is likely to be good for everyone.

So here’s to a kinder, more patient society!