Hello Dazzle! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I want to talk about things that autistic individuals can do to help communicate better with others. There are a lot of articles out there that discuss ways that people can communicate better with us, but what can we do to facilitate the process? After all, communication goes both ways! The best and healthiest relationships are ones where people are meeting in the middle which means that all parties involved are required to compromise and change.
1. Be honest about your challenges
It can be difficult to tell others that you are having a hard time, but you are more likely to get the support that you need if you tell people that you need it. Of course, there is a bias in society and a stigma that comes with having a difference from the accepted norms. This creates hostility towards those that are different.
It is unfair to expect that who ever we are talking with can read our minds and just know that we are having a difficult time. When we fail to communicate that we are struggling, we are accepting that struggle. Creating change requires that we take risks and in this case it means risking how the other person is going to respond when we tell them that we communicate differently.
2. Use Non-verbal communication
Auditory processing disorder is a very common co-morbidity with autism. Because of that, many of us struggle to process information that is being given to us in an auditory format. There is nothing wrong with communicating through other means. Auditory or verbal communication is considered the normal and main stream method for communicating, but it is far from the best or only means for communicating.
I personally have found that speech to text applications to be very helpful when communicating with others. It allows the other person to continue to communicate in the manner that they are most comfortable with while allowing me to read what they are saying and thus more easily processing that information. But there are many other tools that can be used.
3. Ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask the other person to clarify what they are trying to say. If you aren’t sure that you understand what they are saying then the best approach is to state that or to ask a question. Most people are receptive to having questions asked and it is generally perceived as a sign that you are interested and invested in the conversation.
4. Use devices if they help
This kind of goes back to the point I made in number two. Most of the time that we are considering the use of a device it is as a way to facilitate non-verbal communication. There are a wide variety of devices available. Some are marketed specifically as communication assistance devices and they tend to be more expensive. Keep an open mind when it comes to what might be helpful. Even a pen and paper can serve the function of allowing you to read what the other person wants to communicate rather then having to listen. Trying different things can help you find what works best for you.
5. Check in on emotions
Another common co-morbidity that comes with autism is alexithymia. This makes it difficult for many of us to communicate within the context of emotions. Don’t hesitate to check in with the other person and ask them how they are feeling. Take whatever they tell you at face value. If they choose to lie about their emotions, then it becomes their problem that their feelings are being misunderstood. You don’t own that.
Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!