Reply My Questions, Please! — THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM
We’re honoring Autism Acceptance by publishing April Accommodations—meaning adjustments that other people can do for the autistic people in their lives. (For the flipside, as in things that make life harder for autistics, please see our Autism Checklist of Doom.)
Today, we’re hearing from Ava Gurba, who wants other people to please just answer her questions!
What is a small switch in behavior other people can make, to ease your life as an autistic person?
Answer my questions when I ask them, and answer them honestly. I often ask a lot of questions. Sometimes, this means that I ask a lot of questions before I can really move forward with a task or make a decision.
However, this doesn’t seem to sit right with a lot of non-autistic people. Many individuals will decide to completely skip my questions or will provide unfulfilling answers like “Just do your best.” These responses often leave me in a lot of frustration. How do I move forward if my questions aren’t answered, and they relate directly to how I complete that task?
This is a problem in many contexts: school, work, and accessing services. If I don’t have the right information, I risk doing the task incorrectly and having to redo something in a different way and/or having someone get angry with me, angrier than when I was just asking questions.
And if you don’t have an answer to my questions, please be honest about that. I feel like many people skip my questions or pass them off when they don’t have an answer. This is more ineffective than telling me “I don’t have an answer to your question.” Be honest about what you don’t know is way more constructive. It helps me make assessments of how I should move forward and if I should try to find resources or support elsewhere. It’s even better when the person I asked can provide other resources to check out.
How will this accommodation make your life easier?
We are all constantly learning. By honestly answering my questions, it helps ensure that I can do my best work. It provides clarity, in that I have all the information I need to complete a task or make the best decisions for myself. It can prevent frustration and stalling that can happen when my questions are left unanswered. If working on a team, it also ensures that the work is being done to the satisfaction of everyone on that team.
It can assist in preventing more wasted time or energy to make corrections retroactively when issuing changes may be harder to do. It can avoid creating more anger and frustration and prevent it from being directed at me for not doing the proper job, which can cause more frustration and harm.
By honestly answering my questions, you can read the burden of work that often sits on my shoulders and those of other autistic people when accessing a world that wasn’t built for us.