After working with kids with special needs, I've learned that there are so many life lessons to be learned from these special kids that can be applied to all people of all walks of life.
1. Sometimes people need their space.Giphy
I've learned that often times kids on the spectrum get overwhelmed and go away to calm themselves down. Sometimes people just need their space for a few minutes to decompress from stressful situations and that's totally okay! If you feel like everything becomes too much, go away. Leave what's making you feel that way for a few minutes and return to it once you've cleared your head. When you see someone in a similar situation, let them cool off and get themselves back in a comfortable mental space.
2. Be honest and upfront.Giphy
I have worked with so many kids that tell you exactly what they're thinking. If they don't like something or don't want to participate in an activity, a simple no gets the message across. They don't sugar coat anything, they speak their mind and how they're feeling so there's no questions about it. Sometimes kids with autism aren't able to necessarily communicate with words, so you have to read into the situation a little deeper. Apply this to your everyday life, don't go out with someone you don't want to just to be polite but also try to understand if someone is upfront to you, as well.
3. Find other ways to explain things.Giphy
Telling kids that you're frustrated and angry about the fact that they didn't listen will never evoke the emotional response that you want. If someone doesn't understand what you're trying to say, simplify it or change the way you're explaining things for the sake of you both. It may be frustrating at first when someone doesn't understand where you're coming from or what you want them to do, but in the long run it's so beneficial to both the speaker and listener when everyone is on the same page.
4. Dance parties are always appropriate.Giphy
Just like any other person, many kids with special needs love to jam out to their favorite songs. These jam sessions often lead to spontaneous dance parties in the living room, kitchen or car. There's no better way to enjoy your favorite song than jump around and show off your best moves with your friends. It somehow makes the song sound so much better.
5. Some people show their appreciation differently.Giphy
Hugs and words aren't always a way that kids with special needs show their love or appreciation. Smiles, giggles, and invitations to play new games are some examples of how kids show their appreciation. Some people just show their appreciation differently than how you do. It's important to acknowledge and understand this so can you feel what they're showing. Just because it's not clearly stated doesn't mean that the emotions aren't there.
6. Be interested in other people's interests.Giphy
Many kids with special needs can get obsessive over certain topics and all they want to do is talk about something they enjoy. Sit and listen to what people have to say about what they enjoy or think is cool. Don't just smile and nod, it's pretty clear when your "uh-huh" means you've checked out of the conversation and that can be defeating when someone is telling you about their passion. Ask questions and be ready to learn new things about the topics at hand.
7. Be flexible.Giphy
Things don't always go according to plan. What a kid might like one day, they might hate the next. The same goes for just about anything else in life. Have alternative ideas and plans for your future just in case. You may realize you want to change your mind and you feel stuck in a situation where you didn't plan accordingly. As we all know, life likes to throw roadblocks in front of things we see important, so it's helpful to be flexible and ready to change plans.
8. Don't stare at people.Giphy
Many kids with autism or Tourette's have ticks they can't control. Stressful situations can make them tick more so it's always important to make them feel safe. If you see someone doing something out of the norm, don't just sit and stare at them. Let them get through what they need to and let them move on from it. Ticks don't define people and it shouldn't be something you base judgment off of.
There's a lot of things we can learn from kids with special needs, especially when it comes to interacting with other people.