Autistic voice

speech. speaking, vocal expression as autistic features



One of the things that the Dr ( psychologist autism specialist) who gave me my diagnosis talked about when he was summarizing and discussing my autism was that my manner of speech was a significant clue to his diagnosis. I have been spending a bit of time learning about autism and speech. These are more clues to use if you are still wondering if you might be autistic.

Depending on studies and opinions, it is believed that from 25 to 50 percent of autistic people never speak. The percentage seems to have come down recently, probably due to better intervention and earlier attention to struggles. Science is getting better at identifying and bringing problems with speech to the attention of those who can help. Great news!

Many adults who missed autisim diagnosis still have speech struggles, from being completely non verbal to problems with pronouncing words, using them, and voice tone, tempo, expression, volume/loudness, and more.

Those of us( autistic folk) who are gifted with the ability to speak can sometimes be spotted by the way we express ourselves. Most of us have heard about “little professor” ways of speaking as being a clue to autism, for example.

Here are some common presentations of autistic speech.

Pedantic speech : Overly formal, using complex vocabulary, situation-inappropriate because of its formality or details, when simple language would do. This is sometimes referred to as “stilted speech” it is considered stiff, detailed and overly complex .

Didatic speech is speech that is like that of a teacher or lecturer… “telling, explaining, giving detailed information in a superior or pompous way. ” Didatic speech is part of pedantic speech.

Abnormal prosody of speech: Pompous, legalistic, formal, philosophical, quaint… are all forms of prosody : it has to do with intonation, stress of syllables or inflection/ expression of speaking rather than the formation of the words itself.

Many autistic people use abnormal prosody. This is what the Doctor spotted in me. I use all my words, I don’t simplify in speaking with others or in different situations. I have abnormal prosody, my speech is pedantic.

I don’t do it meaning to be pompous, I had always looked at my style of speech as “information sharing”. I love to meet others with information to share, but I have learned not many other people do!
Now I know it is inappropriate to speak in this way and I am trying to change to less formal and less information sharing ways, but a 67 year habit is showing itself as difficult to change. (work in progress) .
Have you ever been called a “know it all”??
If your nickname is something to do with encyclopedia, professor, teacher, books, etc, you might have a form of pedantic speech too.

Pitch/ tone/ volume… how loud, how soft, we speak, or if we are variable in these qualities of speech. We may speak too loudly, too softly, or vary the volume from loud to soft without taking our surroundings or our social situation, etc into account. We may not be aware of this!
Have you been told to shush, hush, or speak up at different times?

Then there is the question of “pragmatics”. Intent, usage of words in context or if they are used “creatively” as metaphors, the use of words in traditional ways allows better “pragmatics” or ability to express ones ideas.
If words are mixed, substituted, changed in form, some loss of intent to the hearer or receiver of the speech is possible.
I know many autistic people who use words in non traditional ways to express themselves.
It can be confusing or amusing to others.
Have you been teased because of your word usage, or told that you make no sense?

The more we have self understanding, the better we are able to make adjustments to help ourselves get the most out of life. Diagnosis is the path to self understanding. Diagnosis can be life changing!


4 thoughts on “Autistic voice

  1. Very interesting and useful information! You are an exceptional communicator in writing. Upon meeting you for the first time, I noticed you were extremely knowledgeable but also reluctant to share that information. I had the advantage of knowing that neither of us really enjoyed large group activities, and that one-on-one with me, you have always been very generous sharing information. The day we met was somewhat stressful for me, and I imagine it was ten-fold for you. A lot of simulators coming from many different directions. When I think back, it almost seemed like you were reluctant to share for fear you would be criticised, or your thoughts would be dismissed. I believe this is in keeping with your past history. Because of my past history, I am very reluctant also (thank you Mother). I have noticed an almost immediate confidence in you since your diagnosis. Knowledge is almost bubbling out of you!!! What a wonderful change to witness!!!! With your now-free voice, you are communicating with confidence and conviction. That was the only change that was ever needed…no more “working on” your communication skills is needed!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Some serious food for thought here!! I perceive my speech patterns to often mirror those of the person I’m talking to,but what do I know? I’ve sometimes wondered if the other person senses this and thinks I’m mocking them (I’m not!). I pick up vocabulary and patterns from those who surround me. When I was visiting Ireland I found myself picking up the speech patterns and phrasing that I was immersed in at the time. I’ve no idea if this is a positive or negative tendency, but I seem to fall into it easily. I love words and accents and hearing other languages. Is this common? Is it an attempt to fit in and feel comfortable around others? Your blog always “pokes my brain” and I’m grateful for it!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. At 20 months old, and already a very fluent talker, I developed a stammer which was an obstacle to everything I wanted to do. This took the form of a total block together with facial grimacing. I was plagued by this throughout school and adulthood only managing to overcome it in my late forties. It caused untold suffering and had was the major problem in my social anxiety. Diagnosed ASD last year at age 66 I now wonder if this was a manifestation of autistic speech. I still hate the telephone with a passion.
    Thanks for all your great blogs Debra; I find them very inspiring.

    Liked by 2 people

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