Through a series of animations, James and Mark shared their lived experience when eating out at a café. They offered a glimpse into their reality and perspective as an autistic, non-verbal adult and their family in a busy eating out environment.
The scenario showcases what it can be like for some autistic people when going out to eat. Navigating the flood of sensory input is difficult enough, but when people react negatively, it only adds to the stress and anxiety.
James loves visiting his favourite café and has a wonderful relationship with the staff. Sometimes, he will become excitable and start stimming, which can attract attention from the public, who might stare and make unkind comments when they see him behaving differently.
By seeing their perspective, viewers can unlearn any assumptions and understand some of the challenges autistic people face in everyday settings.
How can we be an autism ally?
The judgement from customers made the situation uncomfortable for James and his family – their lack of understanding made it hard for James to enjoy one of his favourite activities.
It’s easy to make assumptions, but it’s important to consider what might be happening in the background. If they understood how important this experience was for James, maybe they would see it differently.
You don’t have to be an expert on autism to be kind. A friendly smile and greeting, a simple act to show that someone is welcome, can have a long-lasting impact. Amidst the hostility, a show of support can offer a lot of reassurance to someone who feels isolated.
By learning about different behaviours and embracing differences, we can create an inclusive environment that is free from judgement and accessible to all.
Thanking our hidden heroes…
Thanks to the presence of autism allies, James’ experience at the café transformed into a delightful day out with his family.
The customer who offered her table to their family and the friendly café staff were helpful and considerate. They noticed his distress and treated him with compassion, attending to his needs and making the situation easier for the whole family.
We can learn from their positive examples, encourage greater empathy, and showcase the impact of small acts of kindness.
Mark said, “James has a great time there thanks to the autism allies who are there to help us. Thank you.”
A huge thank you to Mark and James for sharing their perspectives and supporting our mission to drive greater understanding and acceptance for the autistic community.