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Autistic Communication Is Not Broken, Just Different

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Despite all the talk about communication difficulties for people with autism, I’ve often noted that my family and I communicate just fine with each other. Also, when I find a kindred spirit, no problem. I believe autism is not an inability to think well or love well or work well. Is it possible that the difference in the way people with autism communicate isn’t a problem to be fixed?

This article describes a research project in Scotland that shows people with autism communicate well with each other. It turns out that, in a sense, those with autism have their own language. For them, communicating with those who aren’t on the spectrum is like speaking another language. So, it appears that for those who aren’t on the spectrum, communicating with autistics could be as simple as learning another language.

Imagine if you’d been told there was something wrong with the way you interacted with other humans for much of your life. People with autism have been told we need to work on our social skills, or that we’re weird. We’ve noted that we are on the fringes of groups because we may not prefer to engage in small talk.

Maybe that isn’t that odd; maybe it’s not as different as you think it is. Maybe it’s just people communicating in a different language you don’t understand yet.

So, while it continues to be necessary for people with autism to learn how neurotypical people communicate in order for them to manage life in the neurotypical culture, autistic communication is not inherently dysfunctional.

It’s just different.

Getty image by Fizkes.

Originally published: April 13, 2020
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