In this Blog, I will talk about communication, this is something most people take for granted but for someone on the Autistic Spectrum communication and reading the emotions of others is very difficult adding extra stress and anxiety to everyday living.
The simple task of looking at someone and knowing if they are happy, sad, angry or frustrated is so hard for an autistic person, we often misunderstand and make the mistake of thinking that the person is happy when they are sad and in no mood to talk. We find it difficult to look at a person in the eye, I often must force myself to do this and it is uncomfortable. The effort of this can make me lose concentration, then I really don’t get what is being said and misunderstand the conversation totally. We can take things literally and for some people with ASD mad as it sounds a saying such as its raining cats and dogs will mean cats and dogs are falling out of the sky. I find it very hard to understand when it is my turn to talk in a conversation and often find myself interrupting people. I don’t mean to be rude but just don’t understand when it’s my turn to talk, this can lead to me becoming distracted looking like I have lost interest when really, I am confused, often agitated just because I don’t know how to interact. I can’t rescue myself when this happens and this is when I need patience and understanding.
I have difficulty understanding social cues and reading body language. Things that come naturally to most people I need to work hard at and this is exhausting. New situations and meeting new people can be very difficult. Recently I was at a birthday party and knew only a few people, when they started to talk to other people I felt very isolated and didn’t know how to start a conversation or what to say to new people. I felt like I was being judged, these feelings come because I have been bullied in the past just for being different, people have laughed at me and slagged me, this hurts a person bad. I have a lot of negative experience with social situations so I bring a lot of anxiety with me when I go out this can make communicating even worse. This is often the case for people with ASD but everyone deserves respect and no one should be bullied for being different. I must force myself into situations where I know I am going to be uncomfortable, it sounds hard but I know it will help me in the long run, but I always need to know I have an escape route if things get too much.
Touch is also a way of communicating, this is a strange one for me to write about as I react totally different depending on the situation I am in. Some of my friends hug me and I like that, because I know that they respect me for who I am and understand me. But if a stranger or some family members try to hug me It can feel very different and very uncomfortable, it depends on the situation. It also comes back to what I have mentioned in a previous blog about being forced into a huddle on a football pitch with someone’s arms wrapped around me that I hardly know, I hated that.
Tips to help an autistic person with communication:
· Quite environment, beware noisy and crowed places may affect what they can process
· Don’t use sayings that have more than one meaning and if you do make sure to check that the person you are talking to understands what you are trying to say
· Avoid being sarcastic, if you are using sarcasm explain it
· Say their name if you are directing conversation towards them
· For someone with ASD something to fidget with can help to keep concentration
· Don’t ask too many questions as this can lead to overload
· Be specific – ask how was the music at the concert instead of how was your day
· Don’t talk too fast