ASD/NT Communication differences

I didn’t mean to be rude- communication differences and Autism“, by Jeanette Purkis.  After giving a couple of examples, she writes:

The reason these misunderstandings occur is usually a differences in communication styles. There is nothing wrong with either of these styles, they are just different. The issues seem to arise when one group interprets the other as if they were using the same style. Sadly, due to these communication differences, we [Autistic people] are often thought to be unpleasant when we are not.

I am a very kind and respectful person. The idea of upsetting or offending anyone fills me with horror. I want my impact on the world to be positive. I want to help people and make their lives better. I am respectful and inclusive to a fault. The idea of hurting anyone’s feelings appalls me. So how do you suppose I feel when through no fault of my own I say something which is deemed offensive or rude simply because I communicate differently? 

It might go some way to explaining why Autistic people can be overly apologetic and socially anxious.

Adult social care

The author of this article was diagnosed with ASD in her 40’s, and while appreciating it as a more positive label than those she’d previously received, she also struggled greatly with the subsequent non-existent support.

The assumption that we must have worked it out by now if we’re still walking, talking and have a pulse can hide a grim reality of difficult, isolated and unfulfilled lives. Sometimes someone just giving me a reality check of the “have you eaten today?” kind would be useful.

Left to my own devices, I turned to the internet, where I discovered there were others out there trying to make sense of it all too – an online tribe for the tribeless, a diaspora of aliens in a neurotypical universe.

In the long-term, diagnosis has allowed me more self-forgiveness and self-understanding and I’m much happier because of it.

But some support in reaching that place would have been useful. So would occasionally being asked: “Do you need any help?”

Buddy Bench

This lovely idea is a great way to minimise bullying and increase inclusion.  A young boy, having seen a similar idea at a school overseas, raised it with his principal and school board, who agreed to implement it.  Kids who feel lonely at recess can sit on this bench, and be invited to play or walk with others.  The website has several different strategies with which the benches can be used- Christian’s Buddy Bench.

Children’s books about tough stuff

So many parents turn to books to help explain some of the more difficult aspects of life to their children, so I’m always on the lookout for lists of books that tackle the tough subjects.  This list contains books about divorce, potty training (this one has a lot of good reviews on Amazon), anxieties, death, being different (several books), bullying, bad behaviour, moving, cancer, etc.

Managing dysregulation

We have autism all wrong: The radical new approach we need to understand and treat it, an excerpt from “Uniquely Human: a different way of seeing autism” by Barry Prizant.

Instead of just managing behaviours, he suggests listening carefully, observing closely, and seeking to understand the child’s perspective and experience.

Usually the answer is that the person is experiencing some degree of emotional dysregulation. Our neurological systems help by filtering out excessive stimulation, telling us when we’re hungry or tired or when to protect ourselves from danger. People with autism, primarily due to underlying neurology (the way the brain’s wiring works), are unusually vulnerable to everyday emotional and physiological challenges. So they experience more feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and confusion than others. They also have more difficulty learning how to cope with these feelings and challenges.

To be clear: Difficulty staying well regulated emotionally and physiologically should be a core, defining feature of autism. Unfortunately professionals have long overlooked this, focusing on the resulting behaviors instead of the underlying causes.

Here is the important irony: Most of the behaviors commonly labeled “autistic behaviors” aren’t actually deficits at all. They’re strategies the person uses to feel better regulated emotionally.