Just don’t assume.
Like, when I do __________ it may not be for the reasons you’d do ________ or the reasons you’ve been told non-neurotypical people do ________ or the reason my doing _________ is pissing you off/freaking you out/confusing you.
When you ask me, in as neutral a way as possible, to clarify, or why I’m doing something, or what you can do to help (and first, if I need help), what you do is acknowledge that:
a) our brains work differently but one or the other brain is not necessarily correct
b) that I am an individual
c) and that it is safe for me to reduce the effort I may be spending on passing. When I reduce that effort, I can function better, because I am putting energy towards useful things.
Also, for me personally, and I think this is often true of other people I know, ask what you can do to help in advance of activities that can involve high cost/risk if not passing effectively (i.e., airport security. In general, highly rule-focused environments I don’t deal with often enough to be able to do on autopilot are a big struggle for me).
This is like if you actually know me. When strangers ask if they can help, it tends to freak me out. Sometimes I really need to be left alone to internally regroup. If someone is not clearly in crisis that requires assistance for safety reasons, and they refuse your help, for the love of god accept that refusal. Sometimes dealing with helpful people can use up the last space I have to actually solve the damn problem and remain verbal. If I panic, do not scold me, because then I’m panicking and if I don’t know you, you seem dangerous. Wait me out. Or ask questions. Or take some space for yourself.
Anyway, if you know me, and you offer to help, often the answer is nothing. But man, knowing you’ve got my back if I wind up in some weird airport security moment I don’t understand because of a mix of my brain, their brain, how tired I am, and the general stress of travel, is often the confidence I need to get through stuff like that.
Also, it is okay to get annoyed with me! My brain doesn’t magically give your brain good coping skills for dealing with my brain. Just please remember that if I want to piss you off, you’ll know. So please communicate with me, so I can give you your space to be exasperated or mad or whatever, or get enough information so I can try a different approach next time so we can both be less cranky.
Literally, like… just be communicative, reasonably curious, and non-assumptive. You’ll fail, because we all fail at that shit (I do, ALL THE TIME), but that’s best practice for dealing with all types of brains.
Therapy speak is your friend: “When you do ___________, I feel __________.”
Look at that! You didn’t tell me what I did or why, nor did you accuse me of controlling you. You also gave me data about your valid feelings and how my actions impact you, and the option for me to try to modulate what I am doing, explain, apologize, or some combination of all that and more.
Communication is awesome! We can work together! Yay!
Does this help? I feel like this turned into Life Skills 101 vs. Weird Brains 101.
(Please note, I’m non-neurotypical for exciting reasons related to celiac disease. Other possible diagnoses of what the fuck my brain is doing other than that and anxiety are currently a work in progress because when you’re adult and female you often pass just well enough to not get answers, and not well enough to be fucking miserable. I speak only for me, and my opinion is variable).