Autism – Etiquette and Proper Behaviors

Recently, I’ve been reading a few articles where Autistics would do or say things that society would generally consider wrong, or bad behavior, and other people would actually defend them, stating that it’s one of the challenges of Autism.

I have an issue with this.

etiquetteLearning Etiquette

The fact of the matter is that no one is born with good manners. All children have to be taught what is considered a good behavior and what isn’t… as well as etiquette. Saying please and thank you is a good start.

But more so than that, children learn how to eat with their mouth closed, to not slurp their drinks, to respect their elders and so on and so forth.

Autism Etiquette

Is there any reason that a person with Autism should not be taught etiquette or what is considered bad behavior? Of course not.

Temple Grandin often explains how her mother put a lot of emphasis on proper etiquette and how much that helped her later in life.

Children need to learn these things early with or without Autism as behaviors are difficult to change, especially if there is some lack of understanding as to the differences between various similar behaviors. That is to say, for an Autistic, one behavior could be considered acceptable, another not acceptable and yet be very similar in nature. This could confuse them.

So who doesn’t have good behaviors?

The fact is, there’s only two times that someone has bad behaviors…

  1. The child is not taught. The parents, for what ever reason, do not teach a child proper manners, etiquette and behaviors
  2. The child, or person later in life, makes a conscious choice to have bad behaviors

We’ve all said something wrong or done the wrong thing from time to time, but we usually learn from those mistakes. We usually adjust our behaviors along the way.

That applies to those with Autism as well. When you feel bad for what you’ve said, you don’t do it again.

It’s not ok to just be rude or to continue bad manners and use Autism as an excuse. It’s not an excuse. I may lead to some confusion but it’s not an excuse to live a life of bad manners.

Dear Parents

Teach your children good manners. Don’t presume that they won’t “get it”, don’t presume that they aren’t absorbing what you say and certainly don’t presume that it will just never apply to them because they have Autism.

If you want your child to “fit in” with society, you’re going to have to teach them what society will expect of them.

Some people will dismiss the bad behaviors your children exhibit later in life but no everyone will. You would be much better off instilling good manners in them early. It will serve them well in life.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

, ,

6 Responses to Autism – Etiquette and Proper Behaviors

  1. Kathy Kelly August 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    You make an excellent point, Stuart. Autism or not, my son still knows that “Please” “Thank You” and “Excuse Me” get positive results!

  2. Tarasview August 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    my son has actually tried to use his own Autism as an excuse before for being rude… I have informed him in no uncertain terms that Autism is not an excuse.

    It IS harder for him to understand a lot… BUT he knows very well how to say please, thank-you etc.

  3. samantha August 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm #


  4. Madison August 11, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    1Very well said

  5. Antje McInerney January 23, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    An autistic daughter of an acquaintance has recently rudely snapped at me in a conversation, showed aggressive behaviour and stormed out the room. The conversation was about empty CD cases, so nothing personal as far as i could tell.
    I am not very familiar with autism, and therefore decided not to say or do anything, since the mother of the girl ( the ” girl ” is 35 years old now) didn’t correct her either. In hindsight and reading your article, i am wondering if there has been some lack of “manners” in this family for some time, since this has happened a few times, and not only to me.
    I hope i reacted well, but must say, that i found this episode very upsetting and injust, as i had not done anything wrong.
    I agree that ANY child should learn manners, yet am not sure if there’s any sense saying something now,, or even how i should reply and/or react the next time this happens.I certainly don’t want to antogonise anyone, but feel i shouldn’t have to be treated this way.
    Any comments welcome


  1. When Autistics Write About Autism | Autism from a Father's Point of View - February 15, 2012

    […] of this is not to say that Autistics can just say or do anything they want without judgement. Autistics still have to abide by the same code of ethics, etiquette and behaviors as the rest of us. Autistics can’t just make their own attacks on people or be rude and not expect some […]

Leave a Reply