autism certified tour guide
In 2016 The National Autistic Society conducted research which showed:
- 79% of autistic people and 70% of families said they felt socially isolated
- 50% of autistic people and families sometimes don’t go out because of
concern about people’s reaction to their autism
- 28% of autistic people have been asked to leave a public place because
of behaviour associated with their autism.
Many of the barriers experienced are due to lack of public understanding but
the nature of some venues – noisy, busy and filled with overwhelming sensory information – can also cause difficulties. Pre-visit information or supporting material can help autistic people and their families to prepare themselves properly for a visit.
How you can help autistic people pre-visit
People on the autism spectrum thrive on being in a familiar environment with routine and structure. Some may not be comfortable with the idea of change and may have difficulty transitioning from one environment to another. In preparation for visiting a new venue, some parents may wish to visit in advance to check the suitability. They may visit alone or bring the person on the autism spectrum to begin familiarising themselves with the new surroundings ahead of their main visit.
Advance information can be very important for autistic visitors who may be able to cope better if they can prepare for changes before their visit. By providing as much information as possible about your venue, you will manage expectations, reduce anxiety, and assist with planning. Details of the building layout are important for people with a wide range of accessibility requirements but certain environmental elements can be challenging or confusing for an autistic visitor.
Information to be checked in advance by autism certified tour guide
- Advance information
- areas where queuing is required
- security checks
- revolving doors
- narrow staircases
- fluorescent lighting (which can be uncomfortable and even painful
- for autistic people)
- areas under construction or refurbishment
- noisy and busy areas such as shops and cafés
- areas with strong smells
- quieter times to visit
- entrances and exits
- where the toilets are.
The majority of information can be included in your accessibility guide. This is a guide produced by tourism operators to provide potential visitors with important accessibility information about a venue, property or service. The guide enables individuals with accessibility requirements and their family and friends to make informed decisions about where to stay and visit in view of their requirements.
This includes not just wheelchair users but people with hearing loss, visual impairment or learning disabilities, older people, families with young children and more. Disabled people look at accessibility guides before deciding to book or visit.
In addition to your accessibility guide, consider providing a visual story. Visual stories are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation
Top tips for interacting with autistic people:
Be patient and give the person space during a meltdown
A meltdown is when an autistic person gets overwhelmed by everything around them, and may begin to shout, scream, cry or lose control.Spare a moment. First things first, try not to judge. Be patient, calmly ask if they’re OK and give them some time and space to recover. That really is all it takes to help.
Help to alleviate social anxiety
Trying to understand what others mean and how to behave can be exhausting and stressful for autistic people, causing many to end up feeling excluded and isolated.
Take an interest. Invite them to join activities as much as they feel theywant to. Listen to their concerns, and if they’re struggling, just offersome support. Patience, understanding and positive communicationcan go a long way.
Give people plenty of processing time
Sometimes autistic people feel like they’re getting ‘too much information’ and need a few moments to filter through it all. This is called processing time. Give a minute. Ask one question as simply as you can, and just wait. If you still don’t get a response, try re-phrasing it or writing it down instead.