Saturday, February 22, 2014

Communication, Difficult

Reprinted from Yes, That Too

Unless more thAutcast questions get asked where I want to answer them long-form, this is it for those. Last such question is here.
Learning how to communicate effectively is difficult for most autistic people. Please tell how you learned one important lesson about communication. Explain what you learned, how you learned it, and what difference that has made in your life. 
I learned to talk early, with basic but grammatically correct sentences at six months. I'm hyperlexic, just a bit. By just a bit, I mean that I was shocked to find out that most people edit their papers heavily before they turn them in? I've not edited any of my posts here except for vocab fixes on the Chinese language ones, adding relevant links to a few, and adding more examples to my Functioning Labels post at one point.

The thing is, those are all typed.
I do have communication issues, they just aren't the ones you might assume.
Sarcasm is a problem. I can use it. I am, in fact, very good at using sarcasm, satire, irony, and all the rest. I am not so good at detecting, well, any of them. I need sarcasm tags in face to face conversations.
Body language is a problem. I can't read most people's, and they can't read mine.

Euphemisms and white lies are problems. I don't know how or when to use them, nor do I really understand why we use them. I don't always pick up on them when other people use them.
The hardest thing, the thing that took the longest to figure out, though, wasn't sarcasm or body language or tone or euphemisms or white lies. There are ways to accommodate all of them, mostly by way of giving people warning that I don't get them. I also give people warning that I am kind of face-blind. By kind of, I mean I didn't realize how face-blind I really am until I took one of the quizzes. I got to keep skin tone and eye color, but just losing hair and height was enough that I only recognized about ONE celebrity where I know who they are and thought I knew what they looked like in EIGHT.

The hardest one to figure out was the times that I would find myself with many things I wanted to say tumbling around in my head, unable to get any of them out. None.
I had things I wanted to say, and I couldn't say them.
It took until a few months ago to figure out what was going on.
Apparently I lose speech under stress.
I can still type fine, though.

Realizing that I lose speech sometimes and finding a way around it was my biggest challenge in communication, and it's not one that people would expect me to have. I match up so well with the idea people have in their heads of the "high functioning blogger" in terms of how much I get done, and then they find out things like "I melt down on a regular basis" and "I lose speech at least temporarily on a regular basis" and "I have pretty significant sensory processing issues" and "I actually stim basically all the time and not worrying about it is how I can get all the stuff done that I do." It's actually pretty funny to watch someone realize just how like their kids I really am, or just how like them I really am, or just how much I really am Autistic and I really am Disabled. The fact that I have found ways to accommodate myself and manage don't make me any less either of those things, nor does the fact that I am also gifted.


  1. This post is so useful... going to be on my must reads for parents of autistic kids.
    Thank You

  2. Where are those face-blindness quizzes?

  3. Wish people could get past "speech=communication" silliness. Am nonverbal. When I ask for help with communication issues, it is always "we will help you learn to speak", which is not what I want. Even if, by some miracle, I learn to speak, my communication issues will remain, unresolved since all anyone cares about is speech.

    1. Yes, and there are *so many* communication issues that aren't speech.

      One of the damnedest things is getting people to understand that, even though I speak well according to their perception, I am having to process and interpret language completely differently than they are. That what I am understanding is not what they are understanding at all.