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Why is it important to listen to lived experience?

Earlier this week I posted on social media about how I have noticed a number of people who are not autistic saying it is acceptable to talk over the lived experiences of autistic people.

As part of this post, I did a poll on Instagram asking, ‘Do people dismiss the experiences of autistic people?’ The results showed that 100% said yes, they do.

This is just not inclusive and shows just how far we must go still before we have autism acceptance.

So, I wanted to share with you why it important to listen to those with lived experience.

Different Perspective: Accessibility is being talked about a lot now but the people making those decisions often don’t have the lived experience. By asking those with lived experience, you can get a different perspective on what is accessible.

Inclusion: Inclusion doesn’t just mean that you have people with lived experience on your team or in your friendship group. To be inclusive, you need to listen to what they have say about their lived experience and make adjustments to make sure that they are included.

Empowerment: Having your own experiences dismissed on a regular basis has a negative impact on your self-esteem so being listened to is a very empowering experience.

Knowledge: Without lived experience, you are missing out on a whole wealth of knowledge that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Increased accessibility: Whilst you will find that the more people you talk to with lived experience, the more different access needs will conflict with each other. If you take some elements from each person and implement them then you will increase accessibility.

Why wouldn’t you? When I first posted about people thinking it was acceptable to talk over lived experience, I noticed a number of people share with me their experiences of sharing their lived experience. These were often negative experiences where they had been dismissed, something I have also experienced. But I just don’t see why you wouldn’t want to listen to lived experience as this is so valuable!


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