Autism Communication

Be specific! Open-ended questions are difficult!

“Struggles in communication” is one of the features used to diagnose autism. If you do not struggle with understanding and communicating, you can not be diagnosed as autistic.


We (Autistic individuals) may not speak, we may have a hard time finding the right words, we may freeze up when asked a sudden unexpected question. This is due to sensory processing difficulties in various parts of our unusual neurology.

It is frequently missed or misunderstood when asked vague questions like “how are you doing”, or “tell me about yourself”.
We also miss hints about everything: “this car needs washed”, “Those dishes are piling up”,
“it sure would be nice to go out today”, “I wish I had one of those” , are all taken literally and accepted without seeing the underlying “call to action” suggested in the comments.

I have been asked “do I have to paint you a picture” with great sarcasm. Well, yes, sometimes illustrations might help!

The less open-ended or vague your communication to me is, the better I can understand your agenda, the issue at hand, the expectation, the thing you may be subtly suggesting.
Subtle doesn’t work!! Calm, frank, open communication in a very direct and specific manner for the win!

Open-ended questions are so difficult. We struggle to understand what is wanted or expected of us. (autistic people)
Autistic neurology, (sensory processing neurology deficits) many of us have may cause difficulty picking up on nuances such as tone of voice, expression, body language, or context to determine intent.
Autistic folks are usually very direct and usually take no offense in others being direct in interacting with them.
We tend to love details and specific information because it makes it easier to decide how to respond safely.
Yes, safely!
Tremendous anxiety goes with almost any interaction with other humans. So many of us (especially older adults with lots of life experience) have learned that our responses to others can annoy, irritate, enrage others and most of the time we will not have a clue to why this is so.

If we are given very specific questions or requests, it helps us sort what is expected of us and helps us decide how to respond.

Knowing what is expected of us gives us a base to interact with others while feeling safe and less anxious about possible mistakes or misunderstandings.

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