I have a few friends whose children have autism. I know that I don't know the struggles and joys they face on a daily basis as they work to help their children learn how to handle social situations. I do my best to support the moms and to be understanding if the children don't quite follow what we've come to expect as "the norm" at play dates. I try to explain autism to Sierra in age appropriate terms when she asks questions and to let her know that it's okay to play with these kids and that they have boundaries just like everyone else that she should respect; those boundaries may just be a little different.
When I first heard about the Communication Shutdown, it was through a friend of mine named Carolyn. What she had to say made a lot of sense to me and, frankly, she's in a much better position to give an opinion than I am. She wrote a guest post on another friend's blog about how to really be supportive of families dealing with autism and rather than ramble on and on about something I am definitely not an expert on, I will just link to her words.