Why People With Autism Have Difficulty With Conversation
Lots of training and practice can certain improve fluency and skill. But very few people on the spectrum become so fluent in conversation that they sound and appear absolutely typical. There are also some issues that can actually be caused by social skills training. Here are some of the challenges autistic conversationalists face:
We Cancel Plans At The Last Minute
Its always a bit of a gut punch when youre all dolled up ready to head out and, suddenly, your partner in crime cancels. But, whats more frustrating is when that person comes out with some lame excuse for why, i.e. my car broke down whilst I was on the way to wash my hair and I suddenly came down with the flu as my dog ate my homework
In reality, the autistic person in question would probably prefer to have had all the above happened as, the truth is, they likely have been hit by a truck of anxiety. This has been the case for me on so many occasions and, believe me, no matter how disappointed you are with us, we are likely to feel twice as bad about it ourselves.
So, if this happens to you, try and not pile onto our woes and maybe encourage us to open up about the thoughts holding us back. If we mention that we do want to go out, but are anxious about the unexpected, offer us a get out of jail free card by saying something like We can leave whenever you want . Furthermore, if the anxiety really is too much, why not move the evening plans to a lesser packed venue, such as someones home? Fun doesnt always have to involve overpriced drinks.
You May Like: What Is The Symbol For Autism
Anime Often Shows School Bullying
If youre an adult-adult like me, it can be a little irritating that there are so many anime centered around middle school or high school aged kids. But for people in middle and high school, anime can help viewers understand many everyday social challenges associated with school. I said before that anime fans primarily watch anime to escape reality. And if youre talking about something like Flip Flappers, thats completely true. But people also watch more realistic anime sometimes, and this is probably why: they get to see how other people handle distressing real-life situations. Stuff they wouldnt know how to deal with if it happened to them.
Many anime protagonists face bullying and social ostracism, which unfortunately many autistic people can relate to.
Also Check: Can A Child Outgrow Autism
We Dont Always Follow The Rules
There are many rules in life which we have to learn that are never taught. For example, we say thank you for a gift regardless of whether we like it, or asking if someone else wants the last slice of anything . The problem is, these subtle social guidelines are everywhere and, more often than not, autistic people break them without a second thought.
Obviously, it is not an autistic persons intention to break these rules, its just that, as the autistic mind works on absolutes , it can be a challenge to understand many of these acts wherein nearly all cases they go against how they would seem i.e. if someone asks how are you? they dont always actually want to hear how you are, they just want you to say fine and then you can move on.
Nevertheless, whilst autistic people arent great at getting the message when the message hasnt been made clear, we are incredible at memorizing what we are told and are brilliant at following instructions to the letter. Therefore, if theres some kind of rule that an autistic person doesnt seem to be following, just tell us. its not like we want to be naïve to this and, whats more, if you know we struggle and arent doing anything about it, well that, my friend, is perhaps more rude than anything we do.
Every Autistic Person Is Different But They May Share Similar Challenges
Around one in 100 people in the UK has autism, a condition that affects the way they see, hear, feel and interact with the world around them. It can make it hard to talk to others or interpret social cues, and often causes anxiety.
Many autistic people find it hard to filter out background noise in busy environments.
Autism manifests differently in different people, and some are more affected by it than others. Just like in the wider population, some autistic people will be very loud and sociable, while others are more shy and withdrawn. Some may be unable to speak at all and prefer to communicate through gestures or symbols.
So, although all autistic people tend to face similar challenges, the ways in which they affect them and their lives can be very different.
Read Also: Autistic Life Expectancy
People With Autism Might Not Express Emotion In The Way Others Expect
Autistic people may communicate their emotions differently or react unexpectedly to events because of other things they are dealing with.
For example, Alis says that when she got good A level results and a place at university, everyone expected her to be happy. But actually she felt worried because it meant leaving home and changing her routine.
Sometimes autistic people feel things especially strongly, and they may struggle to find the words to express their emotions. Pictures and clear questions can help.
What Are The Signs Of A Shutdown
Everyones experience of autistic shutdowns is different. But if someone is having a shutdown you may notice they:
- Become withdrawn
- Make less eye contact or none at all
- Speak less or not at all
- Leave the area or room
- Move to a quiet or dark place, or one that feels safe
- Move away from people
- Appear to be staring into space
- Cover parts of their face or body
- May not be able to move
The person may not be able to communicate in the moment or explain what is happening. They may appear to go through the motions while appearing more detached and withdrawn, or they may withdraw completely. These are outward indicators that others may be able to see, but do not capture the internal experience of autistic shutdowns.
Read Also: Is Dr Shaun Murphy Really Autistic
Getting The Right Environment
Environment is important to quality of life for autistic people. There are ways you can adapt and improve your environment to make it as comfortable and supportive as possible for you or your child.
The social model of disability is a way of looking at the world that treats the difficulties people with disabilities have as being caused by barriers in society, rather than just the disabilities themselves. These barriers can be physical for example, buildings not having accessible toilets. Barriers can also be caused by peoples attitudes for example, many people will assume someone is lying because they dont make eye contact while talking.
The social model of disability can be a helpful way of considering the difficulties someone faces, and how to adapt their environment so it works for them.
Common changes to an environment that can help autistic people include:
- sensory changes for example, being given a quiet space to work, being able to use sensory toys like fidget spinners, or being allowed to make noises while working
- communication changes for example, using email or apps to communicate, using very clear language, allowing additional time to ask questions, or using visual communication such as photos or pictures as well as written words
- routine keeping to a regular routine and giving warning of any changes as far in advance as possible
How Does Your Son Feel About This Behavior Does It Make Him Feel Better Or More Anxious
Its possible that your son is processing his emotions and daytime experiences. That is, he might be re-living conversations that hes had the previous day. Or, he might be rehearsing conversations for future use. If this is the case, his night talking and walking may be an important coping mechanism or a compensatory skill. In other words, this behavior may actually help him interact with his peers during the day.
Recommended Reading: Visual Cards For Autism
Why Do Many Kids With Autism Not Talk At All
There is more than one reason why children with autism dont talk at all. Their level of functioning may interfere with them obtaining the ability to speak. Or they have receptive language skills and clearly understand what is said but cant verbalize themselves. Or they may need assistive devices that help them talk and formulate words and sentences.
The psychosocial aspect of speaking is to communicate wants and needs. It requires that we connect to others on a more personal level, and because some children with autism dont like the sense of intimacy that creates, they will avoid it like the plague. Other children with autism may avoid speaking because they can get their needs met through highly refined non-verbal communication. Moms and Dads who are deeply in tune to their children can read body language like most people read a book, and therefore language becomes a secondary skill instead of a primary one.
If the problem isnt an auditory one, and it isnt a level of functioning or non-verbal body language one, then the last possibility is that the child doesnt, cant or wont speak without intensive therapy. If caught early, many autistic kids can pick up some verbal skills, even if they are very limited. Many of them are also taught sign language and it really works for them, but the goal is to move beyond that and really speak, especially if their vocal chords are healthy and can make other noises.
You May Like: Autistic Life Expectancy
Signs Of Autism In Children
The signs of autism can change as children grow babies and toddlers show different signs of autism than children aged 4 and older.
Babies and toddlers
Signs of autism in babies and toddlers can include a number of things that affect different parts of their life and behaviour.
Autistic babies and toddlers might:
- start talking later than most children
- seem less aware of others around them for example, they might not respond to their name being called
- make repetitive movements when excited or upset – for example flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or making the same noise repeatedly
Autistic babies and toddlers might not:
- smile back when you smile at them
- point to show when they want something
- point to show you something they find interesting
Autistic babies and toddlers might:
- spend a long time setting up toys in a certain way, and set them up the same way every time
- enjoy lining toys up in order, or watching parts of them move
Autistic babies and toddlers might not:
- seem interested in playing with other children their age
- seem to use their toys to make up stories or pretend they might also start pretend play at a later age than most children
Autistic babies and toddlers might:
- react strongly to sounds, smells, touch, tastes, or things they can see for example, if they like the way a stuffed toy feels, they want to spend a lot of time stroking the toy
- become upset if given something to eat or drink thats new to them
- eat a limited range of foods
Recommended Reading: How To Make A Visual Schedule For Autism
Are People With Aspergers/autism Chatterboxes Or Super Quiet
There are people who have rather fixed ideas as to how talkative or quiet a person on the autism spectrum is. In this article, I will be writing about this. I will also be discussing what has sometimes been believed to be one of the main differences between Aspergers and regular autism. Now, before I continue I will say that I am aware that the diagnosis of Aspergers is no longer autism spectrum canon. And rather most types of ASD have all been brought under the one diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder which I for one am mostly in favour for. However, Aspergers is still a term a lot of people use, so it is something I will be bringing into this article. In most of my articles I use the word autism to refer to people all over the spectrum, but I want to discuss possibly believed differences here.
The thing is when it comes to the autism spectrum some people are very talkative and others arent. It is also a mistake to believe that if someone is talkative, that must mean theyre sociable. No it doesnt. I mean, it really doesnt! You might find this ironic but you can actually be very chatty but still be unsociable.
Instruct Us But Nicely
Are we offending you? Tell us. People with autism may experience avalanche-style misunderstandings. This hinders the formation and maintenance of lasting relationships, and can make for a very lonely life.
For us, cultivating social skills is imperative to bridging the gap of misunderstandings. We arent born with these skills, and some of us werent properly educated on social etiquette or coping mechanisms. Not knowing that stuff instinctively makes forming connections more difficult.
When were processing social cues, we might miss something and accidentally say something that comes off as stupid, mean, or offensive. Without those physical emotional cues to guide our response, were left with just the words, sometimes making it an awkward experience for a neurotypical.
To demonstrate the difficulties this imposes, try closing your eyes the next time somebody is talking to you. Itll give you an idea of how much were missing out on. Its believed that over half of all communication is nonverbal. If youre the neurotypical in the conversation, its your responsibility to make sure youre clear in your meaning. Letting us know if weve offended you will get an apology from us a lot faster than making an offended face at us.
Recommended Reading: Does Nick Eh 30 Live With His Parents
Joint Attention Language And Theory Of Mind Deficits
Joint attention, language, and social communication skills are common challenges faced by individuals with ASD, which can lead to difficulties in social relationships and relating to peers. Generally, individuals with ASD are not proficient in using language as a tool for guiding behavior and emotional regulation , which may lead to uncomfortable or awkward social situations when interacting with others, and consequentially cause ineffective social communication in this population. Additionally, individuals with ASD have difficulty perceiving emotional states and considering plausible causal factors, initiating and maintaining conversational exchanges, understanding the interests of others and previous knowledge others hold , which may cause misconceptions about others. Furthermore, poor social problem solving skills suggests they cannot recognize and repair breakdowns in these exchanges , or appropriately perceive emotional reactions of others .
Does He Remember His Night Walking And Talking The Next Day
Sleep disorders are particularly common among people who have autism. They can include parasomnias, which involve abnormal movements, behaviors, emotions and perceptions while falling sleep, sleeping or waking up. Often, someone with such a sleeping disorder has little or no recollection of their nighttime actions the next day.
If it sounds like this could be the case with your son, I recommend talking with his primary care doctor and/or a sleep specialist about an examination called a polysomnogram. It combines measurements of heart rate, breathing rate, limb movements, oxygen saturation and brainwave activity during a night of sleep to evaluate for sleeping disorders.
The good news is that sleep disorders such as sleepwalking and sleep talking do not cause psychological harm, though sleepwalking can pose physical danger as the person isnt fully awake.
Good sleep hygiene and a regular sleep schedule can help ease disordered sleep and their associated parasomnias. Sleep specialists in the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network have developed several Sleep Tool Kits for children and teens who have autism. I highly recommend these guidebooks, which can be downloaded free of charge.
Editors note: All these tool kits are made possible through the ATNs federally funded role as the Autism Intervention Treatment Network for Physical Health.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Autism
We Leave Conversations Abruptly
Like modern-day Houdinis, autistic people are prone to a disappearing act or two. However, unlike the magicians of the past, were not exactly subtle about it. This can sometimes be observed when we are smack bang in the middle of a conversation and then, once weve said our piece, abracadabra, were as good as gone.
In truth, conversations can be hard work for autistic people, as finding the meaning behind the amalgamation of expressions, words and tone is a long and tiring process. Conversely, Were the ones that can get left behind in discussions and, with so much new information bombarding us, our automatic fight or flight kicks in and were outta there.
If you want to help an autistic person in these circumstances and ensure that we dont prematurely vamoose, give us plenty of opportunities to ask for more information and, maybe, consider speaking more slowly .