Interviewing autistic people: the pre-interview and pre-photography checklist
The aim of this interview and photography checklist is to assist you in presenting the person and their story in a respectful, accurate and dignified way. *(See Fig 12)
• A guiding principle in the autism community is “Nothing about us, without us”. Aim to give the autistic person a voice. It can only enrich the story. This may mean a face-to-face interview, interview via email, or answering questions with support from a family member/carer. If you don’t include the autistic person it implies they can’t speak or think for themselves.
• For face-to-face interviews, check with the interviewee on the type of physical environment in which they’d feel most comfortable.
• Try to accommodate sensory preferences (ADD DETAIL HERE re sound, light, crowd etc).
• Will there be quiet space available if the interviewee feels overwhelmed?
• If there are children involved, check with parents if children will take along items that are known to soothe them when feeling overwhelmed.
• Ask interviewee how they’d like autism to be described, preferred terminology. ADD DETAIL HERE RE TERMINOLOGY
• Focusing on the interview subject, even if they are assisted by a family member/carer, ensures the person feels heard.
• Aim to give the autistic person time and space. Pose questions that contain one idea/concept at a time. Rephrase questions if there are communication blocks.
• Are images respectful?
• Images taken through glass, for instance, can strengthen stereotypes about being distant or mysterious.
• Avoid concepts that portray the person as a victim or someone to be pitied. Portraying the person in isolation can result in a perception they are not connected to community.