A World of Welcome

We can each do our part to help others feel welcomed and supported in our community.

It’s important to go the extra mile to welcome everyone into the community—not just accepting everyone but offering the support that makes each person feel safe and valued.

Belonging is more than simply being accepted into a community of friends. It’s being an integral part of that community. With some thought and a little practice, everyone, both neurotypical and autistic, can feel welcome. Here are some ways to be supportive:

  • Remember to listen carefully. Everyone’s brain works differently. Help each child find their best way, not your best way. Be open to learning. 
  • To participate fully, children need to feel comfortable, safe, and calm in their surroundings. We can all change a little to make this happen; we shouldn’t always expect the autistic child to conform. For example, if someone is bothered by fluorescent lights or the sound of a blender, honor the feeling and, if possible, help fix the problem. Imagine if you had to work with an alarm that wouldn’t stop ringing. You wouldn’t want someone telling you to simply get used to it, right?!  
  • Make sure everyone understands that there are many kinds of play and many ways to communicate; no one way is right. Just like other kids, Julia communicates differently in different situations. She may talk, or gesture, or use her device. She may let her actions speak for her. 
  • Some children show they’re good listeners by facing you and making eye contact. But not everyone. For an autistic kid, listening may look different. It may involve not looking at you—or even turning away. Let the child lead; you follow. 
  • Accept variations and join in! Julia’s version of tag is “boing tag.” Maybe all the bouncing makes it more comfortable for her to play. Similarly, a repetitive sound may be soothing to a child, or just plain fun to say. Try it! Or perhaps you can make the sound into a song. The bottom line is that ALL communication is good. Work to provide security that encourages everyone to communicate and participate.  

Autism is just another part of the enormous range of human experience. Discover the things the kids in your community have in common; respect the things that are different. It’s up to all of us to create a world in which we can all feel welcome.