Sunday, June 16, 2024

Can Autistic People Understand Sarcasm

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Common Traits Autistic People Experience

Can Autistic People Understand Sarcasm?

Some common traits many autistic people experience include:

  • difficulty recognising or understanding other people’s emotions and expressing their own
  • being over- or under-sensitive to things like loud noises and bright lights, and finding crowded noisy spaces challenging
  • preferring familiar routines and finding unexpected changes to those routines challenging or distressing
  • having intense and specific interests in things
  • difficulties reading body language, understanding sarcasm and facial expressions

All of these traits can be experienced to lesser or greater degrees. Experiencing one or more of these traits doesnt necessarily mean you are autistic. But if these kinds of things are consistently present and are impacting upon your life, you may consider talking to your GP to discuss how you can seek a formal diagnosis.

  • As part of my autism, I tend to take things very literally.


  • For those on the spectrum anxious about the future, I want to instill a sense of belief that I know many of us lack. The truth is every day we overcome our condition in so many different ways.


How Autistic People May Communicate

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder can use several different techniques to communicate and learn how to converse

  • Non-verbal communication pointing, gesturing, physically moving someone to the thing they need, writing words
  • Sounds and crying due to not understanding, feeling frustrated or being unable to use the right words
  • Echolalia the term given to repeating phrases and words they have heard in the past, hoping these phases fit the current situation
  • Picking out keywords or phrases then focusing on the literal meanings and responding accordingly to those words only

For an autistic person, focusing on the literal meaning of specific words creates a reply that makes sense to them, but it may seem out of place in the conversation to a neurotypical person. The analysing of words and not tones is why people with autism can have trouble understanding sarcastic language, metaphors, and humour.

They may also

  • Change topics quickly it can be difficult for individuals to stay on topic as they deal with incoming stimuli. It may seem like they are avoiding something or are unfocused. Yet it is usually the other way round, as the mind moves quickly to deal with each input as they come in.
  • Make no eye contact autistic people can talk with you but may struggle to talk;to;you, often not making eye contact. Again this is not an unfriendly action.

Children with ASD may have their unique mannerisms such as

Questions You Always Wanted To Ask A Person With Autism

Hannah, 31, often gets asked questions about living with autism here are the answers to those curly questions!

Hannah, 31, often gets asked questions about living with autism and sometimes they are a little curly to answer!

Autism can be a different experience from person to person, but to break down the stigma of autism, Hannah is answering some of the curly questions she gets asked most often.

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You Get Upset If Your Daily Routine Needs To Be Changed

If you’re a routines person, with everything just so and a very specific way of getting to each of your tasks in the morning, and if you get seriously upset if those routines become obstructed, you may have a place on the autism spectrum. Routines are, for the autistic, often a way to cope with overwhelming amounts of information and sound, and a very necessary way to get through every day.

You’re Very Sensitive To Stimuli Like Sound

Can Autistic People Understand Sarcasm? ~ @NeuroRebel # ...

This is an interesting one, because it differs radically across the spectrum of autism, but it’s worth noting. What are called “atypical sensory-based behaviors,” or reactions to sensory stimuli that aren’t quite normal, are often a part of autism, with some people extremely sensitive to various sensations or sounds. It’s not the same for everybody, though. Autism seems to cause problems in some people when it comes to interpreting and processing sensory information, to the point of causing confusion and pain: you may have difficulty remembering faces, and be either over- or under-sensitive to things like noise and smell. If people keep commenting that your reactions to these things are unusual, it may be a marker of something deeper.

Images: Pixels, Giphy

Also Check: How To Tell If My Child Is Autistic

What Is Behavior Basics

Behavior basics uses direct instruction each week to build strong students and it also sets them up for success in learning and in life. Direct instruction, discussions, interactive activities, review pages, reading extension activities and data collection make this program a complete program to meet student, teacher, parent and administrative needs. To learn more about the Behavior Basics Program, read all about it HERE.

The three individual components that make up the entire program are:

More Tips For Communicating With Autistic People

  • Avoid using terms of endearment

For example, honey or love or mate as they can be confusing like sarcasm and slang. Although the speaker may mean nothing by these terms, an autistic person may be uncomfortable or may take them literally.

  • Talk about what they want to talk about

This is especially true for children. Trying to force the conversation in a certain direction is not a successful approach.;Instead, talk about what they are doing and let them lead the subject.

Another trait of autism is obsession, which means talking a lot about one particular thing. Sticking to the topic they want to discuss keeps the conversation going and helps them develop.

  • Keep information overload in mind

As we have already mentioned, an autistic person deals with stimuli as it arrives and can find it difficult to filter out the less important information, causing overload which may result in any number of outcomes.

We discussed speaking slowly with pauses if needed, but if it seems like a conversation is becoming distressful it can also be helpful to remove visual communications. Whilst eye contact and movements are usually a good thing, during an overload they become an unwanted stimulus.

It is also good to be wary of the surrounding environment. Could background noise be causing overload? Are too many people talking at once? Finding a quiet place reduces sensory input and will help avoid overload.

  • Address him or her as you would any other adult

Recommended Reading: How Do You Get Diagnosed With Autism

Are You Joking Or Serious

One of the most common tropes about autism is that autistic people cant understand sarcasm. ;Most stereotypes have some grain of truth in them, and this is no exception. ;Many of us have difficulty with figuring out sarcasm. In addition, we also tend to have difficulty with idioms and other sorts of figures of speech.

This started out very young for me. ;My mother recalls a story from when I was less than five years old, and I came home crying because a classmate of mine, Billy, had shot a bird. ;Of course, most of my readers will chuckle a bit at this because its glaringly obvious now that what my teachers really meant when they made this statement was that my classmate Billy shot up his middle finger at someone. ;As a five year old, I didnt know this, and to be quite honest, it took me many, many years to figure out what was going on in this scenario. ;My parents assured me that no birds had died as a result of Billys actions, but it took me a long time to believe them.

My father is a very sarcastic person, but his tone of voice is difficult for me to understand, so sometimes I interpret something as sarcastic when it is not and vice versa. ;This has landed me in trouble more than once. ;He once said thank you for doing this action when he really meant I dont wish you any thanks because you did a pretty terrible thing. ;I laughed inappropriately, and I certainly was punished then.

What If We Miss The Sarcasm

Do people with autism understand sarcasm?

Most adults hear sarcastic speech every day and understand it without much difficulty. To understand sarcasm, they rely on the speakers tone of voice, facial expression, and their knowledge of what the speaker is referring to and how the speaker might feel about it. However, some people struggle to understand sarcasm and tend to think the speaker literally means what he or she has said. The literal meaning is the actual, dictionary meaning of the words used. If you do not understand the sarcasm in what a person says, you miss the joke and may feel left out of the conversation. This can lead to some difficult social situations.

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You Often Find Sarcasm Puns And Irony Difficult To Understand

People with autism sometimes don’t quite “get” jokes and humor of certain kinds, partially because of social difficulty. A 2014 study of high school students, some of whom had autism, found that autistic teens respond far better to certain types of humor than others: nonsense jokes and aggressive humor. They didn’t have the same ease with stuff like puns or self-defeating humor. You may also have a bit of difficulty with sarcasm, irony, or weird idioms.

Try To Be Supportive Of Their Interests

Dating someone with autism means partaking in their interests. A person with autism likely has a few areas of interest they focus on, and they may be uninterested in activities or topics unrelated to these specific areas of interest.

When they share one of their interests with you, try to be supportive and take part in it, at least sometimes. At the very least, you must be prepared to give them time to explore their interests and not take offense if they seem uninterested in the things you love.;

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Be Patient With Them During Times Of Change Or Transition

Since individuals with autism have difficulty deviating from their usual routines, big changes or transitions, such as starting a new job, moving in together, or getting married, can be quite stressful for them.

Never rush them into making big decisions, and be sure to give them time and space to process their feelings.;

Saying What You Dont Mean

Lets Go Bust Myths About Autism!  The Life Autistic

With colleagues Kate Lee and David Sidhu, I tested causal effects of childrens sarcasm knowledge and experience on their detection of sarcastic speech in a;new study;published in the;Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology;that is part of a special issue on the psychology of saying what you dont mean.

Together, we randomly assigned 111 five- to six-year-old children to two groups. One group received training about sarcasm and the other, a control group, did not.

We provided sarcasm training to children with a short storybook that we read and discussed with each child. The training described what sarcasm is and why people use it, and gave examples of sarcastic and non-sarcastic speech. With the control group we simply read a non-sarcastic storybook.

We found that some of the children were able to detect sarcasm even before training, but the majority were not. For those children who werent able to detect sarcasm before the training, their ability to detect sarcasm improved in the training group but not in the control group.

This shows that social experience can build childrens knowledge of sarcasm and help them shift towards understanding sarcastic speech. Student illustrator Lauryn Bitterman and I converted the training storybook into a colouring book:;Sydney Gets Sarcastic;is free to download, as a way to spark conversations with children about sarcasm.

Sarcasm still isnt simple, but we now have a clearer understanding of what makes it difficult.

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Dont Assume That Your Partner Knows How You Are Feeling

Autism and love can be challenging because your partner may not always be able to read your emotions.

Keep in mind that autism involves difficulty with communication, so dating someone with autism means that your partner may not be able to tell from your body language or tone of voice that you are upset.

Be prepared to explain your feelings to your partner and be open with them when you are upset because they truly may not notice that you arent acting like yourself.;

Dont Interpret Their Behavior To Mean That They Are Apathetic Or Unemotional

Autism relationships may sometimes be confusing because your partner can come across as lacking in emotion. This is because autism leads to difficulties with expressing oneself through communication.

A person with autism may speak in a monotone voice, lack eye contact, or appear emotionally blank. This does not mean that they do not experience emotions or empathy; they simply have a harder time expressing it.

If you are dating someone with autism and are unsure of how to navigate your way, watch this video.

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Data Collection And Analyses

Conformity to the assumptions of parametric statistics was assessed using the Komolgorov-Smirnov Normality test =1.42, p=0.98), to check that the data came from normally distributed samples and the F-test was used for equality of variances =0.49, p=0.14).

The data were analysed using repeated-measures ANOVAs with factors Groups X Statement X Speakers occupation . Scheffes tests were used for post-hoc analysis. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were calculated across all participants between clinical measures and test results. Measures of effect size were calculated for each effect of interest by providing the Partial Eta-squared for ANOVAs and Cohen’s d for t-test. The level of significance was at <0.05.

Discussion Questions & Worksheets

Understanding sense of humor and sarcasm with your autistic child

Following direct instruction with social stories, you can facilitate a classroom discussion. A staff discussion page, student participation sticks and student response worksheets are all included with 10 yes/no questions. ;Teachers are able to add to these questions how they see fit for their kids needs or to elaborate to require more than a yes/no answer. ;

Also included are student response sticks. ;Teach students to simply raise the yes/no stick to answer the question. ;There are also two levels to these sticks to make for easy differentiation within your classroom:

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Failure To Understand Colloquialisms In Asd

Colloquial language does not entirely match up with formal language. This means that some colloquial phrases can mean something entirely different from their formal meaning. Take the following couple of sentences by way of example:

He was a big butter and egg man who was out of his depth in the smoke until the woman threw him a lifeline. However, she was selling him a pup, proving that you should be wary of Greeks bearing gifts.

Unless you have a reasonable knowledge of both American and British slang, you might be forgiven for deciding that if those sentences mean anything at all, they concern someone working in dairy goods who someone got lost in a lot of smoke until a woman threw a rope to him and dragged him out. However, this woman, whom we assume must have been of Greek extraction, sold him a young dog. You might also suspect that the last phrase was racist about Greek people.

Now everyone on this planet will occasionally get caught out by colloquial phrases and either will take them literally or will not understand them or will make a guess at what they mean and get it wrong. For example, I for many a year thought that if someone was gunning for you they were supporting you. This was not the smartest of interpretations at school, as I can grimly recall.

Hamlet without the prince

Play Devils Advocate

But there are others where the phrase does sound logical just by itself:

Have a hair of the dog that bit you

Hand on the torch

Play by ear

Understand That Large Gatherings May Make Them Uncomfortable

Individuals with autism tend to enjoy time spent alone, focusing on their unique interests.

Since they require this alone time, crowds, parties, and group outings can be challenging for them. If they seem uninterested in going to a birthday party for your mom, for example, try not to take it personally.

Recommended Reading: Why Do Kids Have Autism

Understanding Autism And Communication

It is widely perceived that people with autism struggle with social skills, that they are shy or unfriendly, or that they cannot feel or express emotions.

These are unfair and untrue myths.

Instead, an autistic person may be unable to find the right words to start a conversation, they may not understand body language and social cues, and they may deal with emotion internally rather than expressing it outwards.

Autistic people cannot quickly adapt to conversations or respond to words in the same way neurotypical people do. Instead, they are simply communicating in their own way.

Because autism is a spectrum, there is always variety in the way autistic individuals will behave. Autistic people are not deliberately being strange or unsociable, but they are constantly finding the best ways to express themselves.

You Are Often Focused On Small Details Rather Than The Big Picture

Yeah, right. Teaching How to Detect Sarcasm

The autistic brain is good at certain things and not at others. It’s exceptionally detail-oriented, able to pick up on a lot of tiny information at once, but it finds it harder to put together into a big picture. A 2013 study from NYU indicated that autistic brains process information in a different way than non-autistic ones, possibly because of lower levels of oxytocin, which both influences our social bonding and helps our brains sort and prioritize information.

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