Over the past year, I have thought carefully on how I communicate with others and what factors play in that role. I find that in my attempts to communicate, words generally do not come out as I intend them to, and are often infused with a mix of emotions: anxious, upset, excited or feeling like I have to communicate what I am saying or else it will be ignored. Communicating for me can be extraordinarily frustrating, especially when I have concise thoughts and know that I am capable of so much more. Words can get jumbled together… I wanted to say “dear, seriously,” and it fused together becoming, “dearsiously”. Combine this with a poor working memory and often conversation that I may be fairing well on, lose the train of thought and vanish, rarely ever coming back.
Writing, because there is no outward pressure, tends to make for clearer language. Though I still prefer to talk to someone over writing… as counterproductive as it seems. I have only started writing in 2022 and while I was encouraged by therapists to take up journaling, I have only recently found the benefits of it, allowing me to process thoughts and emotions, explore issues and so forth. The biggest problem with writing, tone can be misinterpreted, especially when more direct language is used as I do.
A common stereotype that plagues autistic communication, is that it can come off rude and while I have not experienced this myself as I mask and am very empathetic, I can attest that Autistics are very direct. What should be understood is that language takes a lot of energy, often forcing a very short and to the point language, devoid of choosy adjectives and skating around truths and things we observe. Generally we see x so we say x and no more, and perhaps because society is used to talking in a ‘fluffier’ way that it comes off odd. Either way, social situations are draining and going home to decompress has been the largest help.
Finding out that I have disabilities at nineteen and Austin’s in my late 30s, I have learned workarounds. I had a discussion with an individual which has stuck with me, she stated that when some hear the word ‘accommodations’, they hear ‘privilege’ of which it is completely not. It shows you have figured out something that works for you. One workaround that I have benefited from is allowing other individuals to talk first so that I can gather my thoughts on the subject. This also helps me understand the tone of the conversation, whether it is formal or informal. When we are talking about my special interest, I can start a conversation and not lose my words as much. I could go on too long because I am excited about my special interest. I have read and I do myself have practice conversation in our heads. I notice that the conversations don’t go the way they are supposed to.
What are some of your communication workarounds?