Autism Spectrum Disorders

  1. Understand that there are many levels of autism... it is a spectrum. In some individuals, the person may be able to have a normal conversation or have highly developed memory skills, which allow him or her to quickly assimilate and repeat information. Don’t be fooled by initial conversations. Check to see how facts or information are retained or really understood.
  2. Ask a series of questions in order to determine the style and dependability of the response of a person with autism. To avoid confusion, ask questions that rely on narrative responses, (e.g. ‘Who were you with?’) ... rather than either/or questions (e.g. ‘Were you with John or your father?’).
  3. Persons with ASD can be very concrete thinkers. Jokes, sarcasm, innuendo are difficult concepts for them to understand. Remember, as a result they are not good liars.
  4. Approach the person in a quiet, non-threatening manner. Some individuals with ASD can be hypersensitive to stimuli. Avoid quick motions and gestures that could be, even remotely, seen as threatening.
  5. Talk to the person in a moderated and calm voice. You may have to repeat your directions or questions several times. Be patient and wait.
  6. Understand that touching a person with ASD can cause the protective 'fight or flight' reaction.
  7. Instructions should be simple and direct, avoid the use of slang. A person with autism will take what you say literally (e.g. ‘Do you think that’s cool?’ ‘What have you got up your sleeve?’ Are you pulling my leg?) Simplicity can avoid confusion in questioning.
  8. Maintain a safe distance when any inappropriate behaviors occur, and remain alert to the possibility of outbursts or impulsive acts. You may need to take a break in order for the person to calm down.
  9. Be prepared for some evidence of echolalia, i.e. repeating words.


Individuals falling within the Autism Spectrum disability category cover a RANGE of behaviors and types.

It is extremely important to follow through on the Pre-Interview Concerns in order to really understand the types of behavior and responses that it may be possible to obtain.