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!


Flat Affect

I missed this one, I think!

I have been trying to learn if there is a link between Parkinsonism’s “mask” and Autism’s frequent reports of flat affect.

Flat affect is simply a lack of expressivity in one’s face and reactions.. the lack of showing emotion in one’s “presentation” to the world. Flat affect is reported as being frequent among autistic people.

I was quite surprised when the Doctor who diagnosed my autism said in the summary report that I “presented with flat affect”. I had always thought I was quite expressive both in my face and body, and in my voice! I certainly feel emotions, and was amazed that these emotions are not clearly visible on my face and in my reactions, etc in interactions with others, etc.

My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s while she was in her mid 50’s partly because she appeared to show “the mask” or flat affect that is known to develop with Parkinson’s disease… and knowing of her autism, I am now wondering if the flat affect due to her autism was perhaps attributed instead to Parkinson’s.

Flat affect might be one reason that autistic people are often accused of being cold.. our emotions may not be evident to others because of flat effect… NT people generally are very facially expressive of emotions and looking at one’s face is often a giveaway to one’s thoughts ( one being a person or an individual). When other people can not see our emotions clearly displayed on our faces, it is assumed that we are unfeeling. This is often far from the truth!

If you have been accused of ‘Not caring, being cold, being heartless, unreceptive, detached,” or otherwise unfeeling, yet you know you feel emotions sometimes desperately, perhaps flat affect is present. Did you know? I did not!