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Media Tips When Interviewing Persons Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability, but there is a wide range of ability among people with autism. Some are gifted and others need significant levels of support to ensure their health and well-being. Children and adults with autism have difficulty with social communication/interaction and exhibit restrictive and/or repetitive patterns of behavior.

Social Communication/Interaction Behaviors:

Restrictive/Repetitive Behaviors:

There is no single behavior that is always present in every individual with autism. Although there are similar aspects, each person has a different way of self-regulating, stimming and interacting. Stimming or self-regulation could present in many forms, such as:

Always recognize that an interview is a highly unusual setting. This is amplified when you’re preparing to work with a person with autism. Individual prep before any media interview is strongly encouraged, especially when you’re preparing to work with children with autism. To ensure success, the reporter should take time either before the interview or schedule a prep phone call with people close to the interviewee to ask a few key questions, including:

When referring to those living with a disability, some people prefer person-first language, which puts the person before the disability (e.g., a person who is blind), while others prefer identity-first language (e.g., a disabled person), as they feel their disability is an integral part of who they are. It is most acceptable, and thus advised and encouraged to always use person-first language (e.g., a child with autism).

Basic principles of disability etiquette:

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