Amanda Hartmann, a Speech-Language Pathologist, has written this article as part of a series of Do’s and Don’ts of AAC. She recommends respecting multi-modal communication, and avoiding requiring AAC users to use their device every time they wish to communicate. Just as we might talk, email, text, Facebook message, etc- an AAC user might vocalise, point, sign, gesture etc- and all are different but valid forms of communication. Her suggestion is to accept the communication as offered, but rather than require the same message through the device, acknowledge the communication, then use the opportunity to model.
I believe that submissions for ASDay 2015 remain open for quite some time beyond Nov 1, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the blog for updates.
Neurodivergent K has written “I’m on your kid’s side too“- a short article encouraging parents to continue helping their children with sensory issues, communication etc, but to continue to advocate for a world in which the child is seen as whole *as she is*, and autism isn’t seen as a tragedy.
Stop, Look and Listen– It’s Autistics Speaking Day, by Lindsay. Sometimes people with disabilities need more space than people without disabilities- and that is also true of conversations. She gives examples of how and why conversations can be inaccessible- and has learned to ask people to wait.
Here are the two articles I most enjoyed from Autistics Speaking Day 2012:
Independence through reliance on others, by Catsidhe. While the author can work around some of his difficulties (eg asking people to email information to him, or have one person speaking at a time), certain other tasks like choosing doctors and mechanics, making appointments with them, and successfully travelling on public transportation cause significant stress. He describes how smoothly the problems of the week were managed by his wife, and gives a contrasting explanation of how they may have unfolded without her help.
Communication Partners, by Nightengale of Samarkand on LiveJournal. Communication can take many forms, but never occurs in a vacuum- however many autistic people lack communication partners. They are often excluded from conversations about autism. Autistic people are speaking- are non-autistic people listening?
Most people communicate in phrases and allusions, eg making Shakespearean references. Yet when people with disabilities communicate in that same way, it is often dismissed or considered a perseveration or stimming. Some good examples here.
Ann Memmott has written an article about Autism Basics, called “When ‘I’ll be back in five minutes’ isn’t true”. This literalism isn’t psychological, or controlling- it’s a brain wired for detail and accuracy, and trying to manage sensory overload. She gives good descriptions about what is happening in her brain and environment during (and after) those five minutes, and some alternative suggestions that might be more helpful when communicating with Autistic people.
After attending a disastrous meeting, the author outlined several strategies to make meetings more autism-friendly. Some of these included skipping initial introductions, don’t allow one or two people dominate the conversation, provide paper/email address as alternative methods for people to submit their ideas, and ask in advance what accommodations people may need.
“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.