It is a two way street!
In other words, it takes two to communicate. Much time is spent teaching autistic children “how to communicate” with allistic/neurotypical others, but not much seems to be said for what allistic/neurotypical individuals can do to understand our communication styles.
Recent studies show that autistic individuals communicate very well between each other for the most part, because our communication styles are more similar to each others’ than the style of allistic/neurotypical individuals.
As an autistic person I am very direct. I am uncomfortable with social “chit chat” and don’t get subtle nuances. I don’t get “hints” or things like sudden complete silence, body language, or sudden change of topics as hints that what I am saying is making the other uncomfortable somehow.
I don’t get subtle signs intended to suggest things that are not directly stated and can not “read between the lines”.
I simply can’t take in any meaning of things that are hidden “between the lines” and meant for me to understand without your having to say it clearly , explicitly, and with as much detail as possible.
I am honest. I tell it like it is. An allistic or neurotypical individual may tell a “social lie” or fabricate excuses or carefully-carefully tiptoe around an issue to be sensitive to the other individuals emotions/ feelings. If you do that with me, I am likely to entirely miss your message!
I am usually unaware that what I say may or may not cause “hurt feelings”. I say directly what I think. Even though I have been warned to “think before you speak” and “put yourself in the other person’s place” I find this very difficult to do. I would not intentionally trample feelings, try to make another feel bad, or deliberately insult another, but often this has been the result of conversation “in person” or in written correspondence.
Hints for allistic/neurotypical folks when communicating with those who are autistic.:
Get to the point without a lot of light chit chat. Be direct, be honest and expect directness and honesty from your conversation partner. Be as specific and literal as possible, provide plenty of details for complete understanding.
We may not “fill in the blanks” easily or understand your intent unless you fully explain it. Don’t assume we are grasping subtle nuances or hints.
Don’t assume we meant to be insulting or hurtful in any comments we make in conversations. It is very difficult to understand things from another person’s perspectives and we may need explanations in detail to complete the thought in any suggestion or allusion an allistic/neurotypical person makes.
One thought on “Autistic Communication”
Well said! If neurotypicals recognised our communication styles and learned about this we could really solve a lot of these communication breakdowns.
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