Things people have said to me:
Dog training instructor: “Get excited! Look happier! Make your voice happy! You have to sound HAPPEEEEE! If you don’t sound HAAPPPPEEEEE!!! your dog won’t know that she’s doing it right.”
Random stranger, after a 5-minute phone conversation: “You don’t seem like a very nice person.”
The Scientist, after sharing something meaningful: “Do you have any feelings about what I just said?”
Phone interviewer, mid-conversation: “I’m glad I’m recording this. You talk so fast, I could never take reliable notes.”
Many people, in many situations: “Shhh. Keep your voice down. The whole floor/house/airport/neighborhood doesn’t need to hear your story.”
More people than I can count (sarcastically): “Don’t sound too excited about it.”
Who Needs Prosody? Not Me
The first time I ever heard the word prosody was when Jess was in high school. She went to a performing arts magnet school, where she majored in creative writing. Occasionally her report cards would mention that she was working on prosody as part of a poetry class.
Naturally, I assumed that prosody was some sort of poetry reading technique and didn’t give it another thought.
Or Do I?
Fast forward to the day I came across “talks too loud or too softly” in a list of aspie traits. It was one of those traits that just stopped me in my tracks because it was something that had been a source of embarrassment at times. Most people I knew seemed able to intuitively control the volume of their speech. At least they weren’t always getting asked to speak up or lower their voice.
I, on the other hand, often have no idea whether I’m speaking at the right volume or pace.
After giving it some thought, I’ve realized that my “too quiet” voice usually happens when I lack confidence. For example, if I have to approach a stranger to ask a question that I’m uncertain about, I’ll almost certainly mumble it–often at breakneck speed–then have to repeat myself. Even if I prepare and think I’m using a normal volume, it still comes out mumbled, at least to start.
The quiet voice can also make an appearance when I’m not feeling very verbal and am having trouble finding the necessary momentum to initiate speech.
The “whoa that’s loud voice” also has two distinct triggers: excitement and environmental transitions. If I’m talking about something that excites me (read: anything special interest related), my voice will gradually gain volume, soon becoming way too loud for the situation. Somehow I don’t notice this happening until it’s painfully obvious by the look on the other person’s face. Or they just outright tell me to tone it down.
I didn’t catch on to the transitions trigger until someone mentioned it in a comment here. When I go from a noisy or echo-y environment to a quiet environment, I don’t realize that I can lower my voice and still be heard. I’ll go from speaking at an appropriately elevated level to be heard in a noisy parking garage to the equivalent of shouting once I’ve entered the much quieter building attached to the garage.
But Wait, There’s More
In addition to intonation, prosody also includes the stress and rhythm of speech. When the dog training instructor was constantly nagging me to sound “HAAPPPPPEEEE!!!” she was trying to get me to speak in less of a monotone.
The stress and rhythm of my speech can get erratic, especially in situations like dog training class where I periodically had to bring Emma out in front of the class and giving her commands to show that we were progressing. Week after week I got admonished by the instructor for not being enthusiastic enough.
The ironic thing is, my dog knows exactly when I think she’s doing something right or wrong. Animals are incredibly good at learning human social cues and, more importantly, they aren’t limited by the preconceived notions that people have about prosody. She learned my cues and integrated them into her understanding of the world.
When I was trying to be fake happy in those classes, she probably sensed my discomfort more than anything. She did much better in a later class with a different instructor–one who didn’t criticize the voice I was using to give commands.
Taken together, intonation, stress and rhythm make up the “music” of language. And that music is rich with social cues. Prosody can convey emotion and intent, telling us when someone is angry or lying, sad or sarcastic. It’s a big part of language pragmatics. (Pragmatics is a fancy way of saying the social function of language.)
An Autistic Thing
Difficulty with pragmatics–especially atypical prosody–is a common autistic trait. Not surprisingly, the difficulties are a two-way street. If you struggle with expressive prosody you probably also have trouble with receptive prosody (decoding the social cues in others’ speech).
A recent theory–one that makes a lot of sense to me–is that impairments in prosody are a result of atypical sensory processing*. Much of our social repertoire is learned by example. Most young children are close observers of the adults in their lives, looking to them to understand how to interpret situations and respond accordingly. However, for this to work, the child has to be able to pick up on the often subtle social cues that adults project. If a child doesn’t pick up on the nuances of prosody in the voices of others, it will be harder for them to learn how to use prosody in their own speech.
Like so much of social interaction, prosody feels like one of those things that if you don’t learn it young, it’s much harder to learn as an adult. I know that my voice is often flat, loud, fast, soft or otherwise off, but I rarely know it in the moment, as it’s happening.
*If you’re interested in the technical aspects of how our brains might be wired differently when it comes to prosody, the discussion section of the linked study has some interesting findings. If you want the short version: it appears that we use a completely different neural network to process speech prosody and we have difficulty turning off certain parts of our brain to focus on task-related processes while ignoring task-irrelevant information (which would account for why filtering out background sounds or visual distractions is so hard).
178 thoughts on “Prosody: Loud Voice, Fast Voice, Soft Voice, Flat Voice”
I’ve actually learned prosody by studying English. In my first year at university, we were rigorously drilled in the rhythms and intonations that are so different in English than in Dutch (my native language), that I gained a very solid understanding of how prosody works. The best part though? Once I managed to do it in English, I could apply those lessons to Dutch as well. Which has lead people to comment on the fact that I have such an expressive and clear voice. Which is of course a really weird trait to have, as an autistic person. I can still mumble or sound emotionally flat when I’m not paying attention to my speech patterns, but in most social interactions, even on the PHONE, I’m actually better at prosody even than most neurotypical people, because it’s such a conscious and deliberate process for me and I know exactly what I’m doing.
Hey! Long time, no see. I just recommended one of your posts to someone on Twitter a couple of days ago.
It’s cool that you were able to learn prosody and that it has “stuck” for you in both languages. There are certain situations where I would really like to have better control over how my speech comes out because I see how much it affects first impressions.
How exactly did they drill you? Anything you could pass on?
And didn’t we [general we here, though I think you were involved, might be wrong] already have a conversation in the comments of another post where learning a new language helped people with certain types of language processing?
This is the first time I’ve heard the word prosody, I love it when I learn something new! My boys have always struggled with voice control, it’s an aspect of the spectrum not many people know about or often write about. I’m thankful you have . . .
It’s one of those things that I think so many of us experience but rarely gets addressed beyond a passing mention in lists of autism traits. I’m glad you found it helpful!
“Animals are incredibly good at learning human social cues and, more importantly, they aren’t limited by the preconceived notions that people have about prosody. She learned my cues and integrated them into her understanding of the world.” Animals are awesome when it comes to cues. Otherwise projects like this one http://www.projectchance.com/mission.html wouldn’t be possible. (I have no clue how good they are, but I like the idea.) I believe even the use of nothing but nonverbal cues can work. Luckily there are some people as well who seem to be able (and willing!) to learn an additional set of social cues like a foreign language. I wonder about children of parents on the spectrum, especially when both parents are not neurotypical but the child is (or displays just some Aspie traits) – do these children mostly use the same “language” as their parents, or would they become “bilinguals” very early and make normal use of prosody and pragmatics when around other people?
I’ve seen that program before and one of my first thoughts was, “they should get autistic adults to train the dogs.” That way the dogs would be comfortable with autistic bodies from the start. 🙂
My dog is super tuned in to my nonverbal cues. For example, she knows she’s not allowed to beg at the table while we’re eating so she’ll go lie down and keep an eye on me throughout dinner. As soon as I’m done eating, she comes over and sits next to my chair to be petted. She’s learned the difference between my eating posture and my “done eating” posture, which amazes me because until I started to notice what she was doing, I didn’t know that I had a “done eating” posture.
My nonautistic daughter is most definitely bilingual. She can read my signals better than just about anyone and communicates with me in a very straightforward way, whereas with most other people she’ll effortlessly switch into NT-speak. Although she’s still quite blunt at times, she’s fluent in things like body language, facial expressions and using small talk to put people at ease.
Getting autistic adults to train the dogs would be really cool! Or at least provide a mixed environment for the puppies in training, so the dogs will be bilingual, too 😉
Bilingual dogs! I guess my dog is bilingual too, though I think she’s more tuned in to me than my husband just because I’ve worked with her more in the training process (and she’s quite protective of me in general).
I do wonder about the children, I would guess that NT children would be ‘bilingual’ much as they would be with other parents who have/use alternative communication.
Interestingly, my husband is very good at ‘reading’ me AND is very good at languages.
Sometimes I skim read far too fast – I just read that as ‘starfish are incredibly good at learning human social clues’! I was seriously impressed that starfish could do that as I wouldn’t have thought they got that much human interaction. My brain was buzzing at the thought of some cool new knowledge and then I discovered that starfish was your screen name…. I wonder if anyone has ever done research on starfish like that though…
Sorry to disappoint you, most starfish are just pretty and apart from that pretty boring. Blogging starfish are quite rare, and even these have to study social cues for a long time to become proficient in understanding said cues.
They’re probably just underappreciated and misunderstood 🙂
I think both children and partners of Aspies can become habituated to the way they speak- prosody and otherwise. Even I have noticed that I am no longer as comfortable and easy around people as I used to be, and I believe that I’ve either absorbed some of my Aspi partner’s anxieties, or just learned to expect those anxieties to appear regardless of which one of us projects it. Luckily my mother is visiting with us for a while and this offers me the opportunity to interact at home with another NT, and potentially practice that ‘language’ I used to use so fluently.
In fact, last night I had to intervene on what my partner explained was an impassioned discussion with my mother. Overhearing their exchange, I was offended by his aggressive communication style. We’ve not found a suitable and subtle way to communicate about this particular Executive Function is a way that sticks (and this discussion seems to imply that this prosody is a difficult skill for an Aspie to gain).
Very interesting comment.. as a youngster, my Aspie daughter used to say fairly inappropriate things, very loudly, to adults, especially her grandparents, aunts and uncles. I was mortified. But they all took it in stride, saying to me, oh, don`t worry, it`s just Jen! They expected it, and it became no big deal to them. (We had no idea Jen had Asperger`s until she was 28. And I have to say… everything about her entire life up to then made sense to me! What a relief! She`s doing great nowadays.)
My wife is extremely sensitive to prosody, and is always pulling me up on using inappropriate volume or tone. In fact she’s likely to believe what she perceives my voice conveys over my explanation of what I was feeling. Misinterpretation occurs with other people too, although not as often.
I suspect that for many of us prosody may not be able to be learnt after childhood. Perhaps a little like difficulties second language learners have. English is not my wife’s native tongue. Her language has fewer consonants than English, and as a consequence she can not hear the difference between “b” and “v”, and “r” and “l”. She has learnt how to pronounce each sound approximately correctly, but will often swap the consonants randomly without realising it. However even if she observes the speaker’s lips, she is unable to recognise the differences unless lip movements are exaggerated. She cannot hear the difference between “very” and “berry”, and “right” and “light”. Prosody probably works the same way.
I think you may be right about it being harder to learn prosody at a later age. For me, the biggest problem is probably lack of motivation. It just seems like an awful lot of work . . .
It probably is a difficult thing to learn, but it’s so necessary in order to smoothen communication with the wider, NT world.
I think of myself as talking almost like a cartoon/television character sometimes, particularly when I’m excited or into a topic. I don’t think I have severe issues in tone and volume control (though perhaps I’m just not noticing), but I do know that when I start getting excited, I talk fast with what feel to me like absurdly over-the-top facial expressions and a lot of hand and full-body gestures. It’s one of the things that I think saves me in social situations–people think I have a ‘quirky’ sense of humor. (Either that, or they’re just laughing because they’re weirded out 😉 )
And boy do I do that ‘mangle a sentence too quietly’ thing, particularly when I’m making a rehearsed request. In my head, I’m listening to myself going, how many extra words can I use to make this simple request? Abort sentence, self! Restart!
I do know I sing when I shouldn’t, quite loudly, I suspect.
Your first paragraph finally helped me understand why the word “animated” can mean visibly excited. I never linked it to having the exaggerated qualities of a cartoon character. So thank you for that. 🙂
I wonder why it’s prepared statements in particular that end up coming out too quiet and mangled? I would think that having prepared ahead of time would make it more likely for something to come out sounding well-rehearsed and proper.
Ha, I think of ‘animated’ when it comes to people as meaning ‘full of life,’ but I guess these days it could mean exaggerated like a cartoon, too.
I think, with prepared statements, it’s that I then have performance anxiety. It’s like, “I have to make asking for a new syringe for giving my cat her Vitamin D seem normal. Normal. Make this statement normal. It *is* normal, but maybe I’ll make it sound *not* normal. So *keep it normal.*” And then of course my statement comes out as “Hello, I have a cat and I’m a patient of yours, I mean she is ,and she has kidney disease and tiny bottles, I mean, her Vitamin D for kidney disease *comes* in tiny bottles, and I don’t know if you have any, but if you do have, could I have some syringes? Tiny syringes to get the Vitamin D out of the bottles. To give to her. Her name is Diva.” Usually followed by me saying something like, “I’m sorry, my brain’s not awake yet,” if it’s morning, or “I’m sorry, I’ve been at work all day and my brain’s tired,” if it’s not morning.
I DID IT AGAIN. Could you edit out my cat’s real name? Just call her–Diva. Or something. (I am such a kneejerk oversharer.)
Thank you 🙂
I think my explanation for animated came out totally mangled. I guess what I meant is that I finally linked the origin of the figurative use of the word (full of life, excited, etc) to the literal use of the word (cartoon characters that are brought to life by moving drawings)? Honestly, thinking about it again is making my brain cry. 🙂 I’ve been having so many weird incidents where I confuse the figurative/conceptual and literal uses of words that it’s become comical.
Anyhow . . . yes, performance anxiety makes a lot of sense. I do a lot of those roundabout explanations too, even when I know what I want to say in advance.
No worries, that makes perfect sense to me. I’m sorry to make your brain cry! Is the figurative/literal confusion worse now with the other problems you’ve talked about recently? Aw.
It’s not your fault! Totally my obnoxious brain’s fault. The “everything is literal” thing seems to be the symptom of the week. So I get funky visuals like a college program crying (turns out it had tiers, not tears) and fashionable models refusing to settle down (they were refusing to “settle” for less than the best, not refusing to put down roots somewhere – it took me like 5 minutes after seeing the ad to work that one out!). At least it’s an entertaining glitch.
Try to re-phrase the apologies as “Oh, I’ll be able to talk normally in a minute.” or something.
I know a lot of people have trouble with the “think positive” thing, but what you’re doing is you’re re-wiring your brain.
For instance, my family used to bump into things ALL THE TIME, and we’d frequently joke about how clumsy we were.
When we stopped joking about being clumsy, we stopped bumping into things.
It didn’t happen right away, and there’s the occasional screw-up, but we don’t do it nearly as often. That’s because when you keep repeating “Oh I’m so clumsy” or “I’m sorry, I’m not awake yet,” you’re conditioning yourself to accept that. You’re brainwashing yourself, in the sense that your brain is always being “washed” with information.
So, the baby step would be, instead of trying to eliminate this completely, change the phrasing just a little. And don’t get mad at yourself for messing up!
I know, I know, it’s another thing to worry about and maybe I’m not saying this correctly. It’s really, really hard. But I’ve found that making a conscious decision, whenever you can remember to do so, to at least attempt to say and think good things about yourself will pay off in the long run.
Your way of saying things is perfectly normal. It’s not weird at all.
Um, sorry. *scratches back of neck*
A useful suggestion to make conscious decisions. I will give it a try! 🙂
I speak slowly and quietly but (according to my husband) when I am happy I flail my arms like Kermit the frog and laugh like Bean Bunny. I am a Muppet.
Muppets rock! So I guess you must too 🙂
Thank you! 🙂 Have to admit to loving the Muppets too, so if I’m going to look goofy I’m glad do it like a Muppet.
I’ve had to learn to monitor both the tone and pace of my voice when I talk. I speak rather quickly anyway (my sister and I joke that the Gilmore Girls way of making conversation is our actual pace), but when I’m anxious it gets so much harder to speak at a typical pace. My sentences comes in blurs and bursts then.
I remember giving the librarian at school a set of cards to hand me when I was getting too loud (can’t recognize my own volume, especially when I’m passionate about something). They were green, yellow, and orange — no red because it felt threatening. I still have the note she gave me, “Cheers to you. Your volume level is perfect.” When I don’t self-monitor (or can’t because I’m too distracted with calming the anxiety — oh GAD), my natural speaking voice is rapid and loud.
My daughter and I do the Gilmore Girls thing when we’re together. No one can get a word in edgewise. 🙂
Your card system is a great idea! I think this would be a great low pressure technique to use for anyone who wants to work on self-monitoring or at least not being overly loud in situations where it could be problematic.
The cards helped. I’m so sensitive to any sort of feedback (gets interpreted as criticism in my head — although I’m getting better at talking myself through things), so that was a way I could accept others’ help.
Yeah, I think especially in this area having a neutral reminder can be a big help for both parties to reduce the potential emotional impacts. Kmarie’s comment below is an example of how badly this kind of “advice” can hurt when done poorly or with malice.
It strikes me that there is something especially nice about *nonverbal* signals – especially if agreed upon jointly, of course. Even sign language, being silently expressive, I think is a gentler reminder than speech.
My husband and I seem to be developing a whole bunch of nonverbal signals lately. In part it’s because I’m so often resorting to pointing at the stuff I can find words for, but it’s also a comforting means of communication.
There is someone who’s not in my life, whom I wish were in my life, whom I sometimes imagine communicating with in that way. I especially think of the fist-on-the-belly circular movement to say “I’m sorry.” I’m happy you have the comfort of that type of communication with your husband. I still have Barry’s story about his granddaughter’s signing resonant in my thoughts.
My granddaughter turns eight in a few weeks. She, her parents and siblings have just returned from a 3 month overseas trip, so I haven’t seen them for some time. Before they left, I noticed that she would sometimes sign while talking to her 18 month old brother. I’m not sure if the signs used were those she remembers from when she was a similar age, or if they were newly acquired.
Apart from a few basic signs such as “drink”, her brother didn’t bother with signing. While on the trip he has started to expand his vocabulary, and now includes a significant number of words from Japan and Spain, where they spent the most time.
Looking forward to seeing them all next week 😊
I’m happy to have that postscript, and I’m glad you get to see them soon! I haven’t forgotten about connecting with you, I just haven’t been at that point with things yet. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like me to have your email, for when the time comes. (I will also sign up for your blog, but the email on my subscriptions isn’t my preferred address for the writing project.)
Yes the Gilmore Girls is my pacing. This has been one of the most hurtful trait as far as comments go on my life. I will be animated and happily sharing, or reading out loud in bliss, or full of happiness and a family member or friend will shortly command, “What?! SLOW down and CALM down.” or “You sound like a little Chinese person.” (which is both prejudice and rude but I strangely I get that a lot.) or ” It’s not a race. It sounded like you spoke a different language.” It stops me mid stride and even if they mean well because they want to understand, I no longer feel like speaking anymore. I’ve talked to some family about it but it still happens. My mom is probably the worst with it…I think its because she always WANTED me to be understood and fit in, that she pointed it out more…I think for the “benefit of me” for other people to want to listen…but sometimes Id even rather people pretend they got most of it and let me keep going if I am especially animated. To stop me mid stride is often quite embarrassing, cruel and while they think I am supposed to have a regard for their feelings there is no regard for mine because I am apparently “breaking the rules” or proper social conduct. It is a source of constant correction for me and I stop talking….It’s frustrating because if I am talking like that it means I am comfortable or having a good time or enthused or something…to correct me and ask me to be “normal” shuts off that desire immediately. I do understand that some people (esp older people) can not understand fast paced talking and need me to repeat myself at times, but for goodness sake…does it really need to be corrected that much if I am too loud? Sometimes I feel like everyone else is keeping me restrained and I am not allowed to be me…which is why I stay in my own environment a lot and feel drained anywhere else ( even my kinfolks homes) except my home with my kids, my husband and my one good friend…I still get a few slow down or tone it down with my husband and best friend but it is more rare. My husband DOES misinterpret my tone and take offence right away when sometimes I am actually teasing him or having fun…when he does that crushes me. Honestly, this area is the area that tends to make me feel quite misunderstood.
It is embarrassing and cruel, especially when people try to be funny or do it sarcastically instead of kindly. I totally understand what you’re saying here about how discouraging those comments can be, especially when you’re so excited to be sharing something. 😦 I wonder if people even take that into account at all or it’s just entirely about how uncomfortable they’re feeling.
I used to feel pretty annoyed when my husband would point out that I’m being overly loud, but he’s improved his approach and I’ve mostly gotten to the point that I can take it as a neutral reminder and not a criticism. It used to be really embarrassing because I didn’t know why it kept happening. I guess we’ve sort of found a middle ground that works but it hasn’t been a painfree process. And it still stings when other people just randomly shush me in the middle of a sentence.
In my experience, it’s so invalidating when a seemingly well-meaning person tells me to slow down. When I’m overloaded because of anxiety, I can’t slow down unless I’m in a place I feel safe to use my strategies (stimming, talking myself through, grounding). When I’m passionate, I don’t want to slow down, so hearing I’m talking too quickly to follow, just silences me. There’s this visceral ache that comes with someone telling me they can’t understand anything I’m saying. Sounds like that’s happened to you too.
Yes that is exactly it…a visceral ache. You both validated that feeling really well…and yea sarcasm is even worse…I tend not to need to cry very much but that is the one time my eyes may smart in public – if someone corrects my tone sarcastically or calls it out in front of tons of others which happens A LOT. Yea my husband and I are working on it too…him on not being insulted personally by my tone and me to watch my tone a bit more if it personally is hurting him.
And yea…I am also overloaded because of anxiety at times- which is why when I am at the hospital for pain under a 6 I talk like a speedy bullet…no matter how many times they tell me to be clear and slow down I pick up steam again because I am trying to calm myself down by verbalizing…although that is different from when I am passionate…When I am passionate it is so personal because I am having a great time…and then I am silenced. It feels like “so much for the fundamental right of free speech.” It actually FEELS like my rights are stripped a bit. Silencing feels like death in a way. It takes away our voices which is the most crucial thing to living…and it is probably why I irritate the hell out of family and friends by sending tons of autistic articles as an adult. I no longer want to suffer silently. Those who don’t like it can ignore it. So be it…It’s an issue that I feel very strongly on. NO ONE should be silenced for being different.
P.S I actually do not mean to irritate them…Its actually more about creating understanding for my children’s future…not to irritate but I know I can come across like that at times…but I no longer let that stop me from trying anymore. People can take it any way they want…and I try to filter all the stuff I read to the really understanding posts…I also advocate for other people groups…I just know what it is like to be stifled…for who you are…and I try not to do that to any minorities esp.
If someone is talking loud and fast, I’ll end up cringing back with my hands over my ears, or even running away. It is extremely painful for me, both the loudness and the speed of talking triggering headaches and dizziness and disorientation. I am autistic, with severe sensory issues. Would you find that as upsetting as someone asking you to slow down/lower volume? If you knew the person asking was also autistic, would it be easier to accept? And i wonder, would it make a difference in how you felt if you knew they were asking it because your loudness/speed was causing them pain? If the person wanted to understand you and was struggling to do so? (All of the above I am asking if it was that instead of it being just because it is “inappropriate social behaviour” is what I mean. Hopefully that makes sense.)
Yea…you know what is funny…with those people I can sense that it is causing pain and I am told I have the most soothing voice…which is weird. My children are autistic too so we alter between being enthused and loud and soothing each other if we can’t handle the tone…I can actually keep up with speed and I don’t mind loud unless it is shouting at me…but I do understand those on the scale like my son who feel like you do and don’t find it upsetting at all if they cover their ears or if I suddenly realize I am causing them pain..that is different and I def am not insulted by that…only when it is socially unacceptable and bothering someone is when I get frustrated. Good point:)
Was not trying to make a point, I did not know. Was curious if it would make a difference, was not sure if it would or not. Have been told *so often* that covering my ears is intensely rude and I should just ask the person to speak more softly. Except when things are loud and fast and bright and painful, not interested in taking out my ipad and adding to the noise.
Wish more people around me would be like that, to understand covering ears and backing away is reaction to pain and not intentional rudeness.
Sorry, I meant excellent thoughts…I hope people would not take that as rude either…I don’t see why they would but people can be odd about what they find rude. My son always covers his ears when we close our curtains – he says its painful to him. Probably like fingers on a chalk board to other people…It does make a difference if it is pain related and people should be hopefully considerate of that with you:)
There is, for me, definitely a difference between someone wanting me to slow down or calm down or talk less because it’s not socially acceptable, as opposed to it’s creating problems in genuinely understanding me, or I’m actually causing someone discomfort. I say genuinely because sometimes I get the feeling that some people just don’t bother to try and understand what someone is saying, or where they’re coming from, and so they pick out a reason why that’s wholly the other person’s fault.
The idea of manners, what is considered rude or not, fascinates me. Well, it would, if it didn’t frustrate me so much. I love nothing more than good manners, but I think being a polite, thoughtful, decent person is not at all the same thing as being able to follow perfectly the unwritten rulebook on social etiquette. I cannot imagine telling someone who is in pain that it is rude to cover their ears. I think THAT’S rude. Actually, I think it’s cruel. I recently ended a friendship (not a close one) because the girl was horrible about others who had, to her mind, broken some fundamental rules surrounding the giving of wedding gifts. I had put up with a lot of selfish behavior from this person but expecting a certain quality of gift from people just disgusted me. I see now that she was taught that that was a measure of her worth by parents who cared far too much what society thought of them, and of their children. Still won’t make me be friends with her again, but I have a lot more compassion for her now. As for my own rudeness, I never told the girl I was cutting off contact. I had no idea how so I just walked away. I felt that this was wrong of me, and still do. I hope I will rectify this some day.
Surely if you’re covering your ears and backing away people would realise that you’re actually got an issue with it and you’re not being rude?! Are people that daft that they can’t tell the difference? Shushing someone without explaining – that’s rude. Shushing with an explanation that you find it painful is sensible because you’re being clear and they can understand and adapt (if they want). Showing a physical reaction is a way of demonstrating there’s a problem when you can’t find the words…
It seems so obvious doesn’t it? I really do not get how ASD people are the ones apparently lacking empathy, when there are so many horrible examples of it everywhere.
Oh wow, thank you, I’m just now understanding being animated as it relates to me. I’ve learned over the years to be less of myself than I was. When I was excited about something, passionate about it, animated – really alive, I often would get comments that I was being too loud, that I was funny, in a not kind way, and or that children should be seen and nort heard. Who came up with that one??? Volume, I tend to be soft spoken, quiet and have been told to speak up, speak more clearly, or otherwise judged for my voice. Talking too fast, interrupting (not recognizing cues) and having a flat voice are all things used to describe me. Animated however is what stands out most to me I’m the above post. Animated to me means alive, enthused, inspired, good things, joyful things, and then to be told to tone it down, that it’s to loud, I’m to loud is like a dismissal of me. Thank you for a big aha moment. ❤
This is interesting, I have never heard the word prosody before, but this describes my husband perfectly. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a young child, but about a year ago a doctor mentioned Asperger’s and thought that may be a more accurate diagnoses. The more we read and learn, the more I am believing that this is correct. He can be loud when talking to people he knows and family, but then be so quiet others can’t always make out what he is saying when he is in a strange place or talking to people he doesn’t know well. He is an engineer in a loud factory environment and when he comes home, he continues to talk loud and I always tell him ” You are not in the factory anymore, you don’t need to yell at us.”. He never even realizes he is doing it, and I found your dog story funny because I talk to our dog like you would talk to a baby, all high pitched and sweet when I am praising her or playing, and then lower when I am fussing at her. My husband talks to her in the exact same voice whether he is scolding her or praising her, and she seems to know the difference anyway. She responds to me the same way she responds to him even though our voices are completely different. My husband has a deep, almost gruff, sounding tone all the time, it doesn’t really fluctuate, and yet it doesn’t seem to affect her. People we don’t know well also think he sounds rude or irritated a lot and that he has a harsh tone when speaking even to our children, but the girls always seem to know when he is joking and playing and when he is serious and it has never bothered them, they don’t know any different. I think children and pets are much more adaptable sometimes than adults can be. 🙂
It was something that I was very relieved to learn more about because it explained so much.
It’s so interesting how our pets and children learn to read our natural signals, however nonstandard they might be considered by other humans. 🙂 My daughter is most definitely bilingual and is very good at reading my sometimes confusing signals. I wish I was equally good at reading hers!
I always wondered what that was called. I took extensive singing/choir lessons when I was in school (I could not stop singing and always had music in my thoughts) and drama classes through high school, although I never took a lead solo or acted in a play. I worked really hard modulating my voice and using music to fix my tone. In the military, I learned to project my voice, which is a very good skill to have. I have to say I really use my muscle flexing in my diaphram to produce what I want, for the most part, and I have to really think about it all the time. In college, I took a speech class to help me clean up my “um”s and “uh”s. I think it would be advantageous for all kids (NT or not) to work on language this way.
When I was little I learned that people who stutter can overcome the stutter through singing. Or that deaf people can control their speaking volume through practice. In high school, I practiced with friends talking while wearing headphones, to control my volume and inflection when I couldn’t hear myself.
That dog trainer probably didn’t think you could get the dogs attention any other way. To me, it seems rather odd that she wouldn’t try to incorporate other styles of communication. I wouldn’t expect a grumpy old man, with a perfectly behaved dog he trained himself, to act happy for the dog’s attention. Animals can read non-verbal cues far better than other humans. What would have been better would have been if she taught you body language. Think of the Horse Whisperer or the Dog Whisperer. They use body language more than words. If they use words they check their tone and modulation. They take their cues from the animal (which is almost always non-verbal).
Wow, these are all really great examples of how to train your voice for elements of prosody. Thank you for sharing them.
The dog trainer . . . she was really set in her ways. At first she insisted that we weren’t allowed to talk to our dogs because dogs don’t understand English. Well of course they don’t if you never talk to them. I talk to my dog all the time and she has a ridiculously big vocabulary. She knows the difference between back yard and front yard and will bring her toys by name if there are treats involved. We’ve also lessened her anxiety issues by teaching her words like car, walk, park, smell it and be right back so she has a better of idea what’s happening. But if I never talked to her, she wouldn’t have any of those tools. I get that dog doesn’t know “sit” from the start, but they need a lot of repetitions of the word to make the association.
Oops, didn’t mean to go off on a rant. Emma does know all of the standard doggy training hand signals that go with the commands and often responds more reliably to a silent hand signal (if she’s already looking at me) than a verbal command. She’s also really tuned in to my body language, though I’m terrible at actually controlling what I’m projecting.
Well, the body language can be taught if you are told what the postures imply. Watch some of the Horse Whisperer documentaries where he explains why he’s acting in a certain way. Some horses are spooked by a hat. Others don’t like direct confrontation. He really breaks it down. Turning away from the horse to pique the interest of the horse. Etc. People think it’s magic when really it’s just understanding non-verbal communication through body language. You hear all sorts of great clues on bonding with animals in shows like that. Ceasar Milan on the Dog Whisperer feeds his dogs with a special dog food mix he makes with his own hands to imprint his smell, establishing his dominance that way. Also, knowing the communication style of the dog is important. Shelties will nip the heels of an animal to herd it along with barking, whereas the border collie will use intimidation through staring. Both are sheep dogs but use different ways to communicate what they want.
Lots of great non-verbal communication information on this video: http://youtu.be/BRAHjt_ucQo It’s the episode with both the Dog Whisperer and the Horse Whisperer together.
Oooh, thank you for the link. I’m adding it to my Youtube queue. 🙂
If anyone hasn’t seen the documentary “Buck,” I highly, highly recommend it.
Thanks. I forgot about that movie and I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve wanted to.
As I’m remembering it, it’s an amazing story of a person transmuting his personal history of pain into a gentler way of being in the world. If/when you see it, I’d be glad to know your thoughts.
Dogs understand English. If say ‘squirrel’ to my dog she knows exactly what I mean and gets excited! If I say ‘treat’ she runs into the kitchen and spins round on the rug. To be fair she struggles with longer sentences like ‘get off your brother’ and ‘no it’s my food not yours’ but there’s still time!
My dog knows squirrel, bunny, turkey, bambi (deer), doggie and kitty. Any one of those words while we’re out walking will cause her to perk up her ears and excitedly scan the neighborhood. She also knows her dog friends by name. All I have to say is “let’s go see Ace” and she’ll lead me to the golf course down the street where he lives. 🙂 And then look very confused and disappointed if he’s not outside waiting to play with her.
Oh bless her! Dogs are amazing (cats too, in a diifferent way). Mine is very extroverted so I think she’s trying to make up for my introversion. She’ll get to the park thinking ‘who can we say hi to first’ and I’ll be thinking ‘I hope it’s empty!’
Cynthia you continue to amaze, impress and inform me! I am so grateful for your ability to share in such a clear and eloquent way and therefore touch on subjects for which I have sought explanation! I love your description of how you work with your differences in your marriage and how each of you tries to appreciate and accept each other for your unique selves!
Thank you 🙂
I have worked hard over the decades to copy ine of my brothers who has a slick way of sounding nice & attractive. If I am outside my home, I have learned to put on a false nice, and I can do it for about 15 minutes. Past 15 or so minutes hen I get tired or forget, I get, “you sound angry.”
At home I can relax, but still my kids repeatedly tell me, “use your nice tone of voice”….”you sound mean”….”are you angry at me”…..”you’re talking too loud again”…..mom, your voice is not nice.”
“use your nice tone of voice”
Oh my. I wonder if it would help if you told them that your voice is just like that and it’s hard for you to remember to make it sound nice when you’re tired. My daughter occasionally asks me if I’m bored when we’re on the phone and I have to reassure her that I’m tired or thinking or whatever. I know that it helps intellectually but it’s still hard emotionally, I think.
My mum often asks if I’m alright on the phone because I obviously don’t sound happy enough for her liking. I don’t think my voice is any different then to other times but I always feel obliged to say that I’m tired or something even though I’m not…
Whoops. “Ine” was supposed to be “one”, and “hen” was supposed to be “when”.
First of all, I am in awe of your output, and the quality of your output. I really enjoyed Take a Test Tuesday, and I’ve been reading older posts whenever I get the chance, but I instinctively settled myself in for a bit of a wait until a new post came along. I imagine that the number of updates varies over time, and depending on circumstance, but that you can write this many great posts at any time is just very impressive to me.
Regarding my lack of volume control… I came across prosody in lists of ASD traits too, and it also gave me pause – and maybe a little metaphorical slap – and that’s how I knew I was on the right track. Prior to my research, I just said that I grew up in a loud household. And I did. Only my mother was softly spoken, and there were always so many visitors (usually gangs of friends) that one’s voice had to try and rise above the din to be heard; and I apparently really liked to be heard. I thought the control button just got irrevocably stuck.
When we’re all together, we’re still very loud, and two of my siblings I would say have louder than average voices, but everyone but me has mostly learned to tone it down depending on the surroundings. My father had a ‘booming’ voice and always seemed to be shouting when we were kids, what with him being low on patience and also trying to work from home amidst all that chaos (which he permitted and which in a strange way he enjoyed because he didn’t like it to be TOO quiet; I’m actually amazed how much he was able to tune out. Unless you cursed, you could not get his attention for love nor money when he really got stuck into a bit of work. AND he always kept his office door open, which was at the foot of the stairs!). I think he was disappointed that we weren’t all as sweet and quiet as our mother; after all, she was the one who was raising us day-to-day. How on earth were we managing to turn out like him?! That’s just my perspective though…
I am a very animated speaker definitely. I knock things over semi-regularly with my dancing hands (had to get four stitches once because of it, and I still don’t know exactly how I did what I did because I was so busy talking about something interesting), and I shout when I’m excited about anything. In hindsight, I can take a step back and kind of replay the moments my voice got higher and higher, louder and louder, but at the time I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, and it’s really embarrassing when someone points it out (now usually only my quiet, often mumbling, husband, and only if it’s bothering him) because I know that I’m going to do it again – and again, and again. It also worries me when I wake up with a sore throat after a night in the pub. I know I just spent six hours screaming unnecessarily in someone’s ear.
The other thing I did sometimes (and to a lesser extent still do) was play around with my prosody in a relatively quiet environment with a rehearsed question or piece of text I had to read out loud, say at school. It was as if I split in two and one part of me was doing the talking and the other part was coaching it: ‘Slow down here, raise your voice here, no, that doesn’t work, try tweaking your accent, now put more emphasis on that syllable, that word sounded ugly, don’t use that word again, I don’t like it…’ It must have sounded very strange, if in fact anyone was paying attention. I was teased by family about loving the sound of my own voice (and that must be why I was extremely loud and talkative) and this shamed me greatly, but it wasn’t entirely untrue. I was – am – fascinated by it. Just as I was – am – by my reflection. I’m sure there are secrets locked in there somewhere. If I know myself, maybe I can know humanity. Maybe not, I’m realizing now 🙂
Thank you for the kind words. I’ve been trying to post once a week in addition to the surveys. I used to post 3 times a week but there’s no way I could keep that up now. 🙂
I laughed at your description of your father’s dismay that you all seemed to have acquired his vocal habits even though your much quieter mother was the one at home with you more.
It’s interesting to me that you say you love the sound of your voice because I’m the exact opposite. I actively dislike how I sound most of the time and really dislike hearing my recorded voice. When I have to practice a speech out loud, I cringe the entire time and that probably affects my performance. I can’t trace my feelings to anything specific in the past though. It’s sad how many people here have mentioned feeling shamed or embarrassed because of how they talk. Again and again I hear parents of autistic kids lamenting that their kids aren’t verbal or aren’t verbal enough and many of us who are talkative seem to get emotionally punished it for it. What a terrible irony.
It helps that I don’t think I hear my voice properly. When I’m speaking out loud I feel oddly detached from it. I know it’s me speaking but I have no feelings about it, like I’m playing a part. Hearing my voice on tape however… Oh that just feels like my ear drums are being gouged!
i’m glad I’m not the only one who has that reaction to their own recorded voice!
I feel detach from my voice too, and I really can’t stand hearing my recorded voice. Some ten years ago I fronted three thirty-second radio commercials for my business. I was told I had a VEERY distinctive voice, and to this day I’m still not sure whether that was supposed to be a compliment or a criticism. I remember I received a lot of coaching to produce the appropriate intonation for a radio advertisement. I felt the voice sounded forced and insincere.
I’m told I have a very distinctive laugh and, like you, I’m not entirely sure how to take that. I really am quite oblivious at times to what’s going on around me, and to others’ perceptions of me, and I think that’s useful, to a certain point. I rely on my husband to tell me if I’ve done something inadvertently offensive or inconsiderate. He’s like my interpreter. I also have huge respect for him, so if he thinks I’m behaving okay, even if the larger world might disagree, I am mostly satisfied with that. Then I can go back to being oblivious.
Distinctive is one of those words that could go either. Code words are so frustrating.
I wonder if professional voice actors feel that their acting voice is a kind of separate entity or if they feel like it sounds natural? It seems like everything that’s professionally produced (commercial voiceovers, radio ads, etc) fits within a fairly narrow spectrum of acceptable prosody style.
The terrible irony just sunk in. That sucks. It seems to be a case of ‘we want you talking on our terms’. I know people whom I think of as NT who feel this way too, just with regards to different issues. There are far too many people out there who would be quite happy to order everyone to dance to their tune, but the tune is different for every single person. You really cannot make everybody happy, but I really hate to see it when children are caught in the middle of this bad logic.
I think this may need its own post because the more I think about it, the more it’s bugging me. A lot.
I would love to see a post about this. I think you would look at the issue in a very interesting light – whereas I’m inclined at the moment to just rage and scream (internally mostly) ‘How dare you not accept me for who I am but expect me to accept you for who you are because that’s what makes you feel good and also ‘apparently’ you’re NORMAL? You can take your normal and stick it…’ It depends on my mood. I can be philosophical about it, even compassionate 🙂
I also saw the most depressing comment yesterday. I made myself read the comment section of a video where a young man said he’d been cured of autism by a treatment program. I stopped reading after someone posted about how no one really understood how hard it was to have your autistic child not look you in the eye, how much you can want to get rid of that behavior, because it really [and I quote] ‘invalidates you as a person’; it’s really hard not to take it personally. I was left with the thought that it’s not the autistic child in this context with the problem – it’s the person writing that ridiculous comment!
I get very uncomfortable reading about treatment for autism, because so much of it seems to be about ‘normalizing’ the child. I had a problem with this long before I thought I had ASD, making children fit into society, or a society, with little to no consideration for who that child was, and how they wanted to be. We all have to do a little bit of passing, a little bit of self-censorship, along the lines of ‘Do not punch that person even though they were really horrible to you’ or ‘if you could smile at that tired looking cashier who just got verbally abused by that other customer, that would probably make her feel pretty happy right now’ – as opposed to ‘Don’t wear pink because you’re a boy’ or ‘Don’t talk about your interest in lego because you’re a grown-up and everyone will think you’re weird’.
Being cured or not is a very touchy subject with me. I doubt that anyone is really cured of autism, at least not completely. While I’m sure it’s nice to get that eye contact and feel as if you’re connecting, other people can still tell when someone has been “trained” to do something as opposed to having it come naturally. I was told of an incident where one person could tell if someone was hugging her like he’d been doing it since childhood as opposed to hugging her because he learned how. I feel like there are many people who would know if someone had social difficulties even if this person was supposedly ‘cured.’ It’s like a vicious cycle: train the autistic to be ‘normal,’ but when the autistic actually goes out into the world the ‘normal’ people know he’s not ‘normal,’ he might wonder what he’s doing wrong, he keeps using all of energy to try to change, and it just repeats itself! It’s an exhausting process.
So yeah, like you said, MrsT we all have to do a little passing, but not at the expense of the individual!
I don’t get the parents who are so hung up on whether a kid says “I love you” or looks at them for 3 seconds. To me it seems meaningless if you force a person to do something like hug you or make eye contact or say “I love you” simply to prove something (not sure what it proves, but it seems to prove something important in some people’s view).
There are so many ways to experience/communicate love and connection and happiness and family and it’s sad that some parents are willing to emotionally harm their children because they (the parent) only understands one way of communicating.
Very true – it’s all well and good telling your child you love them or trying to hug them, but I’d rather it was shown by being proud of what they achieve (however unimportant it might seem to the parent) and turning up to events that matter. Listening to them when they talk (even when it’s not something you’re interested in), and remembering what they’ve said. Otherwise it’s just empty words.
As someone who’s just started understanding an ASD parent, I can understand these parents to a degree. Even though I think I’m ASD, too, there are NT things my father would do that would crush my heart into emotional powder (in an ‘I’m going to sob now because I feel so relieved’) way, if only once or twice. Like if he asked ‘how are you?’ once. I think theory of mind issues mean that we ASD folks can sometimes forget that NT folks need proof of their existence–they need reassurance they’re being seen and (at least to some degree) understood by other human beings. Social gestures that sacrifice a bit of someone’s own personal comfort to provide reassurance to another do that for an NT, I think. I feel like it’s similar to how ASD folks need reassurance that we’re behaving correctly, even if NT folks find giving that reassurance irritating.
I appreciate your diplomacy here, Otterknot. Societally, there may be imbalances of power/justice that need righting (I wrote “writing” first – an appropriate slip, since such writing is happening here), but in close personal relationships, I feel there is often if not usually vulnerability on both sides.
As long as I don’t come across as harsh to either side :|b I find that having an ASD parent that I have a long history of pain and confusion with and thinking that I’m likely ASD myself (and having a long history of pain and confusion with myself!) means I feel both ‘sides’ of the issue, sometimes. You’re right, that close personal (and inescapable) relationships increase vulnerability all around, I think. Everyone wants to be seen and reassured, in at least some ways, by those closest to them.
Ah, and I meant ‘could do,’ not ‘would do.’ I don’t think he’s ever asked me how I am.
I think I inevitably think of these questions based on my own experience as a parent and I can’t imagine asking my daughter to meet my emotional needs at the expense of her own self-image, emotional health or anything else really. I think it’s up to the adults to make accommodations for their child’s communication style, at the very least making an effort to understand that their children communicate differently and in an ideal world making an effort to understand, honor and value that communication as much as NT-style communication is valued.
I’m glad you made that distinction / clarification. I agree – adults, especially parents, need to give children a safe and secure place in the world, where they feel accepted for who they are and confident in their parents’ stability. That’s crucial – regardless of whether accommodations or adaptations to others prove necessary or helpful. I was thinking of interactions between adults when I read Otterknot’s post.
(And by “crucial,” that’s not to say that people can’t go on to build positive lives and do great things, including providing better parenting than they got, despite painful family circumstances. I hope my meaning’s clear.)
Yes, I read crucial to mean in the ideal world sense rather than in the sense that those who didn’t have it as children are doomed. We can recover from a lot as adults but it would be better if we didn’t have to. 🙂
I agree, that the responsibility lies firmly on parents to learn about and from their children. I hope I didn’t make it sound like that wasn’t the case! If you flipped my feelings about my ASD parent to be feelings about my NT parent and lack of communication and validation from them about the way I am (which–I think there was some, as there were definite bumps in the learning about each other process. Neither of my parents is a saint–and nor am I 😉 ), that would be just as cutting. Having a parent fail to try to communicate with and understand you as a child is something a child has no defenses against and can be hurt by in the way an adult can’t be, and that will always be the case. We’re born into an uneven power dynamic It’s the adult’s responsibility not to abuse it.
Oh wow Otterknot, I owe you a huge apology. I completely misread your comment and I’m sorry. My reply was entirely inappropriate.
I saw “I can understand these parents to a degree” in response to what we were talking about and didn’t put it together with you talking about what you want from your own father to mean that you could understand the feeling of wanting someone to say “I love you” etc. I took it completely literally as sympathizing with the parents we were criticizing and replied accordingly.
Ack. This is what I meant by language becoming so literal for me. I had a feeling that the way I was reading it made no sense but I couldn’t figure out why. It was only after reading your reply here and then going back and rereading the thread a few more times and then thinking about it obsessively for a few hours that I finally got your actual meaning.
*sigh* I think the time has come for me to admit that I no longer have the receptive language skills for these kinds of conversations. 😦
I’m tempted to delete my comment but I guess it’s a decent explanation of why forced eye contact, etc. in the context of parent-child relationships is problematic so I guess I’ll leave it. But yeah, sorry.
Hey, if it helps, I didn’t think your comment didn’t make sense? I’m completely capable of coming off as harsh, myself, and just assumed that I had (and wasn’t offended by that. I don’t mind if people tell me I’m being too harsh or missing the point!). I think your response was fine! Please don’t delete it.
And I’m sorry to have made you worry that much!
Thank you Otterknot for articulating what bothers me so much about parents needing to be validated by their kids. I get very upset by parents, often inadvertently, misusing the power they have over their children, sometimes by not even realizing they have that power. It should be no child’s responsibility to make a parent feel better about their own perceived inadequacies. Add to that a child who cognitively can’t do what it is that a parent would like them to do, in order for the parent to feel better about him/herself, and it just seems downright cruel. It is not an interaction between adults, between equals, which definitely requires understanding on both sides, and I feel like some parents may forget this, and hold the child responsible for not meeting grown-up standards. Some parents hand over a lot of power to their children, and that is a horrible burden for a child to accept.
The transition point from being a dependent child to being an independent adult is–fraught? is perhaps the right word, too, I think. When I talk about NT responses I would love to receive from my father, for instance, or NT responses I realized I never provided to my mother, my siblings, or friends in my past, it all comes from a learned understanding that I’ve only really begun to acquire as I’ve lived apart from my family. Becoming a separate (and to some degree, equal, though I think even adult children often behave as though they’re unequal–I know I do) adult, changes the dynamic. For me, it leaves me thinking, how should I behave toward them now? Now that I’m older, apart, and have had more chance to learn about social interactions, I better know how to give other family members what they’ve been missing from me and I also know not to expect certain things from my father–but the wounds from incomprehension on all sides in childhood still remain (and my family was fair if not spectacular about it all, I think, having read some other people’s stories!).
I also find that I have a tendency (in general, in all relationships) to try to be what the other person needs, with poor consideration of my own boundaries. So as adult, I’m wrestling with where to *stop* being what my parents project want/need of, since that involves being completely ‘normal’ for my mother (dating, dressing well, etc., all of which are things I *would* like to be able to do) and completely caretaking and uncritical for my father. With my father, in particular, I feel like if I’m not careful, I could easily be sucked by the particular ASD/NT dynamics of the whole family into playing a near-spousal role, a ‘second caretaker,’ since he will take all the time anyone offers him.
The parent/child dynamic is so tricky. And on top of that, I expect many parents of ASD children are ASD themselves (possibly undiagnosed–it seems like women are often only diagnosed once their kids are) or dealing with unresolved tension from being in a marriage where their partner is undiagnosed. I imagine, if those families are like mine at all, no one really knows who’s speaking which ‘language’ and why Families. So much support and so much pain, often at the same time.
I agree…this is so frustrating when parents do this…and DONT read comments on other sites for Autism that are written by parents of ASD who do not have it themselves. I have spent way too much time bawling about the horrid misunderstandings and harsh words…Sometimes I speak up or give your blog as a way of understanding…because I know most of these parents love their kids…but they are showing their love in VERY damaging ways not knowing the Autistic child KNOWS what they are doing…and as far as passing…it makes me so mad that I take everyone for what they are and I adjust…and the one thing in the world I can not tolerate is being intolerant…but otherwise I am very tolerant but I do not get the same treatment back from anyone besides a few key people. I am always having to conform…even when I am still distinctly aspie I do so in gentle ways…so I am not happy when “normal” people accuse people on the scale of using excuses or not trying…and the eye contact issue- so ridiculous. It is not heartbreaking if you realize your child loves you and re frame it. As for “curing” autism- I don’t believe it is ever cured as it is a different way of being…I do however believe that certain ways of eating, being, doing do AID in minimizing sensory overload which in turn can make us be in less pain and thus be able to be more social or carry on “normally” a bit better or communicate more but that does not make us “cured.”
http://momastery.com/blog/2014/07/21/letter-about-autism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=letter-about-autism On this feed I commentated because I was sick of the assumptions and I got a response that said:
“I’m writing from my experience, you from yours. Your autism may be genetic; I’m referring to what seems to be related to brain inflammation and poisoning. I don’t think anyone is born or meant to be the way I describe. That’s why I am passionate about prevention and healing. If you do not have these experiences, then great. I am happy for you. But autism is not mostly genetic; there aren’t genetic “epidemics” with a sickness increasing 10-fold over a decade. And autism is physical sickness. I’m not going to engage with those who believe that it isn’t. They haven’t lived my life any more than I have lived theirs.” – See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/07/21/letter-about-autism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=letter-about-autism#sthash.AI6tqrBM.dpuf
just WOW?!? And this is what our society admires?…people who believe autism is a physical sickness? If anyone has a good response to that please go over and comment. I was wiped from already commentating about this ( just find Kmarie and see the comments underneath) We need more voices for the sake of all the children who are treated as if they need to be “cured.” And when someone says they are not going to engage with anyone who believes it isn’t…is not that a warning sign right there that they are too boxed in to understand? I realize they have been deeply hurt by someone in their life…but being hurt should NEVER justify prejudice…Sometimes I do not know why I bother to comment on these sites…but then I look into my kids eyes and I know why I choose to speak up sometimes…because even if one person considers them more human after my comment…it was worth it.
I commented back…See on stuff like this I just can’t always walk away. I want to…because it causes so much pain but I just feel like I need to be compassionate but boundary filled in a response. I won’t respond again if she comments back but I just could not leave it like that for mothers who may be new to autism reading it and thinking “true!” You know? Sometimes I don’t know why I torture myself with it all…today I will be upset all day because of this interaction but no one said advocacy was easy. In any social rights movement it was the people who were not afraid to speak up when it hurt them deeply for the sake of the other…for the sake of the people coming after them…as Gahndi speaks “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Sometimes I have to find the balance between staying quiet and speaking up. I ask my therapist and hubby for guidance…but most of the time, I have to believe that somewhere speaking compassionately but boundary filled will make a difference…and its also ok to be angry. We would have no social movements without anger…but in that anger to be willing to see another perspective.
I don’t know. Maybe I am wrong. I am a little depressed at the moment with it all…but I will recover in a day or two:)
Man, judging from their first sentences, you’d think they’d be open to the idea that ASD can, perhaps, even have *multiple* causes (it wouldn’t surprise me if someday we discover there are all different kinds of autism, with different origins, some of which *are* likely non-genetic). But if someone told me what runs in my family was ‘just’ upbringing or some mysterious illness and not at least in part genetic, I would stare at them flatly. For about five years. Because Jesus H. Christ. My family members grew up in very different conditions but almost all turned out with very similar ‘quirks,’ reaching back generations. There may be environmental factors, but there are also genetic factors, I’m dead certain. And my ‘quirks’ have been around since birth, as have the quirks of everyone on my father’s family’s side.
Are people that desperate to think you can take something and have a complex body system instantly and permanently alter? (Stupid question, looking at all the things sold as one-hit wonder antidepressants and weight control drugs and things out there. But it always astonishes me.) I mean, in some cases I would be happy to try things that might help me function differently, if they were well-tested and backed up by good science, but I would never expect them to alter me ‘for good’ or to alter me at all if I didn’t also make other significant changes in my lifestyle. Even genetic alteration (if that even was a possibility!)–my body would have spent 30 years living as it is. It would always be different from a body that hadn’t.
I hope that makes sense. Also people like that deliberately avoid the literature that says that it’s very likely the upswing in ASD cases is due to a change in diagnostic criteria and the language used for describing certain conditions, not an epidemic. It’s like there’s not an ‘epidemic’ of gay people. We just have different words and social constructions that have resulted in a modern gay culture arising from something that’s been part of the human race for ages. ‘ASD’ is a language tool used to help people understand certain phenomenon, and can be genetic, socially constructed, and result from circumstances like illness or injury, all at once or in any combination. There’s no reason to throw any of those babies out with the bathwater.
Could I blame the fact I’m gay on my mother having had me vaccinated as a child?! Oh no, hang on a sec, there are plenty of examples of homosexuality in animals too in the wild, where they don’t get vaccinations – damn, back to the drawing board 🙂 I’ll have to blame it on my mother dressing me in dungarees instead!! (I had a lovely pair of blue ones and a red checked shirt – I was destined to be a lesbian)
I guess we just have to accept that some people have a rigid view and aren’t open to even considering other alternatives? I’m sure that dietary changes, for example, might help in some cases if particular foods or additives amplify certain ASD characteristics, but what works for one won’t necessarily work for others. For instance I’ve read a book called ‘George and Sam’ (excellent book) where eliminating some foods have made a big difference for one of the boys but had no effect on the other. If people aren’t open to ideas then they risk missing out on something that might help and that just seems daft to me.
Anyway, like you say, diagnostic criteria have changed – and it’s pretty much a certainty that’ll change the numbers!
p.s. There is an epidemic of gay people – we’re everywhere – mwah, hah, hah! (laughs evily) 🙂
“what works for one won’t necessarily work for others.” Exactly! I suspect that some parents tend to latch on to the ‘it’s an illness with one cause’ concept because it’s simple and means they can just do what Doctor A or Book B says and have magical results! And never have to actually closely observe their child or think about multiple variables. But it really just means they might not see things that could help when they come their way, because they’re so intent on the one prescribed ‘solution.’ Not that any human being can be infinitely observant and adaptable, of course. I feel like these parents are setting themselves up for more hurt and frustration (for both them and their children) than they really have to experience.
I could barely read what you copied from the comment….it’s so contradictory. First it says that your autism is genetic, and then it says that autism in general is not? Then it says ‘I don’t think anyone is born or meant to be the way I describe.’ So which is it? Is it genetic or isn’t it?
The comment is so representative of the belief system that you can read about in A Field Guide to Earthlings. It can be so ingrained in people’s minds that we find it hard to be open to other possibilities. I’d like to bring up something I posted in my blog: my allistic family member strongly believed that I would never get a cavity, even when she was faced with the fact that I got a cavity on my wisdom tooth. When I got another cavity after that, she immediately wrote off the rest of my teeth as bad, and that was how she accepted this new reality. Maybe there’s a connection between what I experienced and the comment you posted? I wish I knew how to change that mindset though.
Okay, I have just scrubbed my kitchen to within an inch of its life – I am now calm enough to add a comment to the continuation of this great thread. I cannot promise I will remain calm, however. Right, deep breath…
Kmarie, thank you for fighting the good fight on behalf of those like myself who really, really want to put forward much needed arguments to ignorance (however unintentional or well-meaning) and intolerance, but find the experience too overwhelming to even know where to begin. I understand that you do so at considerable cost to yourself, at least in the short-term. I find other people’s hate or willful ignorance or damaging behavior (ESPECIALLY when they claim to do it out of love for someone) impossible to let go of. I can recall ignorant opinion pieces from newspapers years ago that can still get me wound up. Because it’s not as if the ignorance has gone away. Your reason for doing it is very sensible, and also worthy.
I have been in some horrible arguments with family members that have turned very personal because I didn’t agree with what I considered to be ignorant, or at least ill-considered, views. I get now that I may have come across as hurtful, but I found their comments hurtful and I reacted accordingly, which they found strange. What did I care for such-and-such a person or group of people? Not able to explain myself adequately, not able to process the fact that people I loved and relied upon could be so nasty (as I saw it), I became overwhelmed by frustration, and would shout, or cry, or become generally incoherent. Sometimes I’d just sit at the dinner table and let my mother and sister shout at me, sometimes calling me (in my opinion) horrible things, until they’d run out of things to say, while my brothers looked on, fearful of fueling the fire if they stepped in to clear the air. My mother admits this happened, but says it was only my sister who did it, and wasn’t she horrible for treating me that way and poor me. Sorry, I digress… The point is that it put me off confrontation for a long time, because I blamed myself for not knowing what to say so that we could disagree with one another and not have it descend into a terrible scene. I tried, to my mind, all sorts of different approaches to touchy subjects (when others would bring them up), but I always failed to prevent hurting someone, or I failed to get my point across in a way that people could relate to. Because I couldn’t do anything about my family’s behavior, or anyone else’s for that matter, it seemed easier to focus on my own and how it wasn’t up to scratch. I did – and do – often chafe under the knowledge that if I can be accommodating and considerate of other people’s feelings on a matter then why can’t others do me the same courtesy. Just one more thing that doesn’t make sense to me. By the way, my family are only one example of arguments gone horribly wrong, and I just do not have the energy nor the quickness of mind to deal with all the things people will throw at someone to make them be quiet and so that they will ‘win’ the fight.
My father had a great way of demonstrating to me the differences in logic people employ, or, rather, the lack of logic some people use, and how that can completely mess with your mind. I only wished I’d taken heed of his lesson much earlier. When I was young, I used to tease him about having a hairy back, but he insisted that he didn’t. He even, jokingly, accused me of lying, which I took serious offense to. I would pull on a few strands of hair, enough that it would sting, but he would deny feeling anything. ‘But I’m looking at it Daddy!’ I would shout at him. ‘Well I’m not,’ he’d say. With his permission, I’d get a pair of nail scissors and clip a few hairs off his back and show them to him. Then he would say that I couldn’t prove they were from his back, and that maybe they were from MY back!
My uncle, my Dad’s brother, also said that people will go to unbelievable lengths to maintain their particular view of the world, and you will not prompt them to make that leap to another, more evidence-based, view if they really don’t want to. It upsets me that ASD people are being told that it is their view, and theirs alone, that is ‘wrong’, abnormal, and so they are the ones that must change. I think a lot of people on this website have demonstrated how much they try to look at situations from other people’s perspective, and it would be simple manners for others to do likewise. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too apologetic, too understanding, because I’m ASD and so I accept that I must be wrong and others must be right.
I’ve just sat there nodding and going ‘yep, yep, oh yes..’ It’s so difficult when you really want to fight your corner (yours as an individual or yours as a community) but can’t find the words and end up frustrated at yourself as well as at others. There are so many times I’d have loved to put my feelings into words but have failed and have ended up just taking it. Maybe in future it might be easier because I’ll at least know why I can’t vocalise it…
And it’s so often (but not always) those that should be caring for us that hurt us the most. I know first-hand how frustraing mothers can be (how many examples would you like?!) (though to be fair the most hurtful thing ever said was by my father – impressive as he never said that much).
But your uncle is right – some people can’t be swayed and will insist they’re right even if you provide irrefutable proof that they’re not. My mother is one! I just walk away more often than not now as it drains me too much. I’ll save my battles for where I might have an effect, on others watching if not on the main one. I don’t always understand why others can’t see things the way I see them (it seems so blindingly obvious that I’m right!) but I appreciate that they’re entitled to their (sadly misguided) point of view. It would be lovely (but unrealistic) if everyone could do the same…
Retrenchment is, unfortunately, a fairly predictable consequence of challenge. For school I’ve been reading about motivational interviewing (a great clinical book by Miller and Rollnick), which is all about helping people move toward change in a strengths-based, person-centered therapeutic context, and according to that, it typically doesn’t matter how gentle, fair, or logical an approach to change is, if it’s imposed from without. The art of change according to MI is about evoking the will to change that exists within the person – by reflecting her statements in a neutral way and asking open questions that essentially allow the person to voice for herself the logic of the change side. It’s an approach that respects the autonomy of the other person, recognizing that the change has to come from within her. I’m not sure how that interacts with great change movements that people have referenced, but perhaps in those cases, the principle was still in play, by demonstrating (literally) the cause so movingly that sympathizers who may have been passive then assert themselves to action, and by embodying the need for change at enough of a distance that those whose hearts needed to be opened could have that experience privately and then bring the change forth on their own? I think these types of situations are addressed also and more domestically in a book I mentioned in a previous thread, TAKING THE WAR OUT OF OUR WORDS. Perpetually experiencing injustice, illogic, and all the rest, is certainly fatiguing, and often the onus is placed on those in the disadvantaged position, who are the ones who feel the motivation for change already and most keenly. I don’t know quite what my point is, except to say that indeed these things are hard; that other people may or may not change, and in a way, the best thing to do is sometimes to minimize the conflict (without misrepresenting yourself or your own position); that when advocacy is important, possibly it can help to read about good books on conflict and nonviolent resolution (it was kind of a revelation to me last summer to realize, wow, people have *studied* these things, and I can learn about them!); and that caring for oneself physiologically, to get through stressful situations in a way that’s kindest to one’s body, is important. I write all this in early-morning sympathy, and if I’ve left out important considerations or said something ignorant of the situation, I apologize and hope someone will call it out. I, too, have vivid memories of injustice. As a child, I was left in my brothers’ care one day when they were with friends and being particularly mean to me. I went up to the closet in my room and composed a speech about my worth as a person, which I then went out to our front porch, where they were, to recite to them. They just laughed and shoved me off the porch into the bushes. I’ve come a long way from there on my own, but the pain of not being recognized, accepted, and valued, is still readily recalled.
excellent thoughts EA and Mrs T. My theory comes from three books…”The Gifts of Imperfection” changed my life- Its about owning my own shame story yet putting up boundaries and care for myself…I allow myself the flaws or perceived flaws of anger but I never allow that anger to consume another…”Necessary Endings” was another book that taught me boundaries…and now I am just starting “A New Earth” be Echeart Tolle – thus far I feel it is mostly about the Ego and Detachment and it has useful things to say. I can still hold up boundaries or be human with anger ect…while respecting the essence of a person…but FIRST I tend to have to work it out verbally and be really angry and possibly disrespectful with a safe person to come to that place of respect and seeing the other as a human struggling too…Cognitive therapy helps a lot…what I am trying to say is that I understand the hurt that can especially happen to anyone who is counter cultural (like Aspies/Autistics tend to be) and I feel we do not use as many boundaries because we follow the social order to a degree because of all our masking, being misunderstood and hurt and finding out words…so boundaries and OWNING who I am has been my biggest journey. Sometimes it is about being silent but other times it is more about being ME…because BEING is sacred. BEING is the greatest gift. So if being me means that I need to find the courage to gently but firmly speak up even if it comes at a cost…I will do that..but not all the time either. Only in moments that my soul is moved to do so. Some battles I just will not fight even if they are worthy…and if we each honour our soul in this way…change happens in different places in different ways.
All that to say…you are all beautiful beings…who have been part of my change story and BEING too and I appreciate all of this conversation and thought and if you can ever read a book Brene Browns Gifts of Imperfection is SO worth it:)
Your comment feels so positive, Kmarie. I agree that *being* is sacred. Thank you for the recommendations.
Thank you:) I am sorry for your experiences and that I triggered them by going on this tangent. Unfortunately I was on this feed when I read the comment back to me and I processed on here instead of with my husband. But it really helped…all your perspectives…valuable ones I would not have had otherwise- so with that I am happy but I know it is not something I should do often:) I do appreciate cynthia’s forum and want to respect each person here…so I am sorry if it triggered hurtful stories.
I also want to read each book that you all recommended at some point too! EA has a great way of thinking- change happens from within. Only I can be the change I wish to see in the world and hope with all my heart that each interaction i have makes a difference:) Thanks for being part of my change:) This forum and Cynthias blog has changed me for the better.
Being in the very early days of self-diagnosis, I have noticed that I am revisiting my childhood a lot and that is bringing up some very fun, some very good, and, just for balance, some incredibly painful memories. For instance, my father has been dead for almost half my life and, although I know I will always miss him, I have not experienced any acute feelings of loss for quite some time. That changed when I realized I was most likely ASD. The fact that he’s not around to offer me any practical advice, and unconditional support, just hit me in the gut one night. I hadn’t felt grief like that in years. The same can be said for my sudden recollection of the family arguments around the dinner table. I was sure I had dealt with the anger and frustration surrounding the (mostly) historical difficulties between my mother, my sister, and I, but apparently not… ASD is a new filter with which to view the world, and the thirty-two years I’ve already spent in it, and it’s all a bit raw still. I’m very glad of this space to help me process everything, and to then unload when the result of all that processing is a glut of conflicting emotions. I guess what I am saying is that this is exactly the right place to have memories triggered, and experiences relived. I’m also really pleased with all the suggested reading material. I always wanted to know more about conflict resolution, but a lot of the books seemed, I don’t know… wishy-washy, lacking in any real substance.
I’m with you Kmarie, I have to rage a lot first to try and gain some perspective. Unfortunately, my husband finds what I sometimes say quite shocking. It’s just not how his brain works. He can decide right away what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling, what his perspective is on any given matter. I ENVY that, although of course there are downsides to everything. I have a journal on to which I write the most horrible things. Well, I did. But then I felt guilty about them. Thanks to you, I have decided that that’s just how MY brain works, and as long as I burn the evidence afterwards, what’s the harm? 🙂 It’s like exhausting your anger on a punching bag (never actually worked for me, as it happens). Better to lash out at something that can’t get hurt, than at an actual person. If that allows me to ultimately be a better, fairer person, then so be it.
By the way, I didn’t mean books strictly about conflict resolution, but books that would help me personally be better at resolving conflict around me, or helping me to cope with it.
I can’t stand the sound of my recorded voice – it sounds really really weird. But not like it does when I hear myself talking out loud. I don’t understand that at all. How can the two be soooooo different….
Thanks Okternot…you made me feel exceptionally better…and I agree…there are different variants but also strong genetic components…what do you think of this;
My husband read it to me…I don’t know what to think as I do not like how they spoke about it still but I do like that they are finally researching deeper and more extensively…but now I am worried that with this new evidence it could turn into a whole Hitler preventing different genetics again sort of situation if enough people want prevention. Sigh I am so confused on how I feel about it all anytime I read NTS thoughts…but then I come to a forum like this or hang with my awesome autistic kids and I feel great about who we are…
“Crucially, though, according to the study from Swedish and American scientists, most of the genes underlying autism disorders aren’t beset by rare mutations, but are common variants found in the general population.”
I think that makes a lot of sense to me. Like, people are always looking for one single reason that ASD exists. But if it’s like a lot of variations in human, uh, being, it’s going to have massively complicated causes like this–genes that only have certain effects when combined in complex ways and exposed to certain conditions (I mean, we even know now that some genes turn on and off! Bits in genomes jump around! There’s so much going on at that level. Genes aren’t like a nice simple string of beads or row of switches).
Also, I think it’s very reassuring, as far as genetic cleansing risks go. If the genes that *could* cause ASD are in just about everyone, there’s no way to reliably single certain groups of people out as carriers. And I do think some day gene therapies and pre-natal genetic engineering will become a fact of life, but that’s going to be so far in the future, how we think about things like ASD will have already transformed enormously, I’m guessing, and we’ll be using and misusing the technology in ways we might not even consider today.
Great thoughts! That is why I referenced that link because of the very sentence you quoted…it makes me feel better and “normalizes” us because EVERYONE has these genes as you pointed out…I do feel that part is reassuring. Phew thanks for reassuring me…I can now go about my day without feeling broken. This is why Iove this blog and feel safe here…everyone is so thoughtful but true to themselves too. It is very validating. Thank you for taking the time!
and Invisable/ autistic ROBIN: thank you also for your thoughts …it really helped me be less confused…your points…she was contradictory and that was bothering me but I didn’t have words for it! And your example did make sense! I think I want to read that book you described too!
I’m glad I helped. Thank you for the link! It made me feel better, too 🙂
Liz thanks for your thoughts above and the comment you left on the original site! I was surprised and delighted to see that supportive comment there! It really picked up my day:) I love our community here:) thanks again! Great words too!
I think maybe it has to do with our hearing our voices resonating within our own skulls/heads versus what our voices sound like to everyone else.
What really drives me crazy is if I have to make a speech or ask a question using a microphone with amplification. I can’t stand hearing my voice amplified while I’m trying to get the rest of the sentence out. It stops me in my tracks, which is awful when I’m doing public speaking.
Oh and the ‘Do you have any feelings about that?’ works in the opposite direction for me and my husband. I am excessive in my facial gestures most of the time (I really think I learned it from sitcoms because those are the images that come into my head sometimes when I’m trying to think how I should say something, how I should present myself), but he is very impassive. He’s also not as verbal as I would like (because I find non-verbal cues challenging). I will tell him I’m feeling emotional (catch-all for when I’m not quite sure what I’m feeling but I know there’s plenty of feelings there), I will explain what led up to this feeling, and there are occasions when he will spend the whole time just looking at me, saying and doing absolutely nothing, unless I prompt him. Which I tend not to anymore, unless I want his advice. This is how he is. This is him listening. And years ago I told him to stop trying to fix every problem I came to him with and just listen to me, and I got EXACTLY what I asked for. He also knows that I freak out about being interrupted, or being perceived to be interrupted, so this is probably also him playing it exceptionally safe.
My difficulty, as I think someone said earlier, is having my voice read more than my words. Or more than I would like it to be read. It usually means nothing if I’m shouting. I have no idea where to put emphasis on words, or syllables, so inflection doesn’t mean all that much either. And I too will repeat something over and over not so much because I feel so strongly about that particular thing I am saying but because I need to calm down about something (I probably don’t even know what it is until much later). I need to just TALK.
And I HATE being told to calm down. Or relax. A more patronizing expression would be hard to find. And, funnily enough, it will do pretty much the exact opposite of what the words are telling me to do.
“there are occasions when he will spend the whole time just looking at me, saying and doing absolutely nothing, unless I prompt him.”
This is basically me in way too many conversations with my husband. I am listening but often I just don’t feel like i have anything meaningful to say. It frustrates him greatly and with good reason.
“Calm down” and “relax” are a lot like “good for you” – weirdly patronizing variations on something that was probably a very positive saying at one point.
I’m really feeling these days that there is nothing better that I can do than try to accept someone for who, and how, they are. There is a balance to be struck, of course, depending on the situation and the person, but my husband’s communication style is very loving and very supportive, if I only take off the blinkers and stop worrying about what he and I SHOULD be doing, and how we SHOULD be acting. Sometimes I think we can put too much stock into that one moment. I know my husband loves and supports me. He has obviously communicated this to me over the years we’ve been together, yet I have been tempted to see fault in his quietness while I talk. I can be very slow to learn some lessons, but I hope this one has been well and truly absorbed.
My wife often has one-way conversations with me. Well that’s what she calls them. I don’t see the need to say anything unless it’s a useful contribution. Besides, if I do have something to say, I tend to interrupt at inappropriate times. I haven’t got a clue if a pause is just momentary to take in some air or to swallow, or is deliberate to allow me to say something.
To make matters worse, she comes from a culture where a listener makes frequent verbal acknowledgements such as “ah-ha”, “I see” and “is that so?” I still haven’t worked out when its appropriate to add these to the conversation.
And then there’s the issue of not looking directly at her while she’s talking. Even after forty something years she still thinks that’s a sign I’m not interested, whereas it’s what I do to concentrate on what she’s saying. Her hands, in fact her whole body, often become quite animated when she talks, and I find the movement so distracting, that I am not able to follow the conversation unless I look elsewhere.
Those could have been my husband’s words! I would get very annoyed with him for interrupting me but he said that there’s no way of knowing when I’m done or not (I take very long pauses because my thought organisation is so poor and I become very easily overwhelmed). I am starting to appreciate his quiet style. Looked at another way, it’s actually very reassuring to have such a dedicated listener, to have someone who just lets me talk it out, and if I’m not sure if he’s listening (if I think he may be distracted with something regarding work, say) I just ask him. I’m learning to trust that he’s not going to say ‘yes’ just to make me happy.
The one thing he and I have in common as far as our communication styles are concerned is that neither of us knows when to make soothing ‘I’m actively listening to you’ noises. I’ve learned to nod and hum something that sounds vaguely comforting and also to paraphrase, and I think I do okay, but it doesn’t feel very natural. Sometimes I think I interject too much, that I treat it more like a conversation and that’s maybe not what I’m meant to do. But, honestly, I know a lot of terrible listeners (people who try to tell you you don’t feel the way you do) so I just do my best and try to see that my husband does the same.
Yes to all of this. Especially the interrupting. I’m terrible at knowing when it’s my turn to talk and I also sometimes feel like I need to say what’s popped into my head before I forget it because if the other person goes on for a few minutes more and the subject drifts, I’ll end up having no idea what I was responding to, let alone what I wanted to say.
I’m well familiar with the phenomenon of interrupting (or, I guess, being interrupted) – and I can’t believe it never occurred to me that an aspect of it could be a kind of urgency not to forget the thing that wants saying. I attribute such incredible mental prowess to the person I’m thinking of, that it never occurred to me that “fear of forgetting” might even be an option. But clearly the two things – a retentive memory and a fear of forgetting – aren’t mutually exclusive.
Yes! I forgot to mention the need to say something as soon as it pops into my head. When something does pop up and I think it’s important, I have to concentrate on remembering it more than listening to the other speaker. Of course, that means if I don’t interrupt immediately then what I say might not be in context when get to say it.
He: Let me finish!
She: If I don’t say it when I think of it, I’ll forget…
My parents were married for fifty-nine years. I can’t even guess how many times I heard those two lines of dialog during their conversations:) Now it makes perfect sense, along with all the times my mother said to my father, “Why don’t you say what you mean!”
Arrrgh . . . that used to happen to me all the time, and still does, though not as often as it used to, or I am better at responding to it.
As a personal coach, or in facilitating a Circle Gathering, it’s important to be really present and listening to what the person is saying, ‘holding space for them’ if you will, and if I am busy trying to remember what I might forget that seems important to share with them, I might miss something else they said that could be important because I am trying in my mind to pin that point down before it flies out the window.
One of the gifts that I’ve gained in being a coach is the skill I learned to reflectively listen. Listen to the best of my ability, and then when the person has completed what they had to say, I ask, are you complete? It’s a great tool-skill for handing (my) not interrupting and it has helped me a lot over the years.
I then will say back to them (reflect back) what I thought I heard, and then ask them, is that what I heard, what you wanted to convey, or is there more you wanted to share to clarify?
If I missed something or something needs more clarification, then we can do that, and we go on from there. At first it seemed like a really labor intensive process for me, but over time, I realize that unknowingly, I gravitated to becoming a coach, and learning this particular style of coaching because it was a skill that I needed, and I could also support others with.
It was not until now that I realized what a valuable tool (reflective listening) has been for me. 🙂
This sounds like a great technique, especially if it’s something that you now do reflexively. I actually was on the receiving of this end recently when describing a problem to a medical student. He was super good at reflecting back what I said and asking for clarification, which is a skill that suspect most doctors learn in med school and then employ less over time. Because when the regular doctor was in the room, the medical student several times clarified something I had said previously to the doctor when she didn’t appear to have heard or understood what I meant and was taking the conversation in a different direction based on what she thought I’d said.
And now i have to ask – what does a personal coach do exactly?
What an awesome experience to have with a doctor (medical student)!
I would hope this would carry over into professional practice but sad to say in my own personal experience with the medical profession, it does not happen often. They are in such a hurry to get in and get out and meet a quota of patients seen per day, or they look at me like I am a bother because I took the time to come in informed and ask good questions, and outright ignore me, or tell me that what I have read it wrong, the numbers are wrong, and they know it all. Urgghh!
I have had those kinds of caregivers that were patient and listened, but few and far between. It irks me even more when they have been caregivers for my kids. Mess with my kids and you are stirring up a mama bear in her den. I will find a new doctor if you tread on my kids. They are adults now so that is not as much of a challenge, though I find myself asking questions of my therapist with my new diagnosis because I want them to have the best and two of them live in two different states so they don’t have access to the wonderful doctor I am working with.
What does a personal coach do? It depends on the coach and where their area of passion and experience and training is.
One good way to answer that is to give you a link to my website. That might help some. http://www.cantadorallc.com
I came to coaching years ago as a part of figuring myself out, and because I wanted to help others do the same. I’ve worked in healthcare and wellness (mainstream in a hospital as well as complimentary medicine and holistic healthcare) since 1981. For me becoming a coach was a natural progression of the other things I had trained in and services I provided. I went from the outside in. Physical medicine in a VA Medical Center to redirecting my focus to just working with women as a childbirth educator, massage therapist, hypnotherapist, Reiki Master Teacher, Coach (HeartMath (R) and Wellness Inventory (R) and shamanistic apprenticeship and studies. Some of this is on my website – a lot of it is not. The website will be changing as soon as we/I have a chance to talk with our kids (around Christmas when everyone will be together) and let them know about my diagnosis. I don’t want to go any more public than I am in my posts here until they know. I want them to have the news from me, not second hand.
Personal coaching is as unique to each coach as it is to each person on the spectrum. Each coach brings an area of experience and interest, along with training and follows a clear code of ethics related to confidentiality etc.
My interest, background, and training and those I serve are a direct result of my own process. Never more true than now as I see who I have worked with over the years and how I have done it.
My work is very much heart centered, and that in itself was a challenge, not because I was not heart centered, but because I was so sensitive to the processing of information. My coaching work has most always been done by phone or email and that has worked well for me and my clients, though not without some hiccups as I tried to push myself on days when I was tired and did not recognize it as overwhelm. Now that I know what I know about me, I can already see how much better I am and will be at coaching.
I’ve had an interest in Autism and ADHD for several years (HeartMath has an area of study on education and ADHD related practice) but never delved too deeply (maybe because I was afraid based on the Rain Man stereotype and subconsciously saw myself.
Coaching for me is really fulfilling work, and I know that my Aspieness did get in the way in that my anxiety and challenges with communication on the phone kept me from really building my practice to what it could have been. Learning the Reflective Listening tool I mentioned above has made a great deal of difference and I’ve become a much better coach, and all around more settled in me because of it.
For me my coaching is about helping my clients find the source of fulfillment in their own lives. My goal is to create a space of unconditional listening and care for my clients to rest in their own deep heart space, and unfold their heart’s blueprint or path.
The work is very client centered around what they are coming to coaching for. That could be stress management, creative process, or learning a new self care tool.
I never offer medical advice or diagnose and always refer them to their healthcare professional for those kinds of questions.
Okay, the above was a really long answer and would have probably been better shared in an email. I hope it helps to answer your question(s). I’m happy to answer any others that you have. 🙂
This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing the background and your website. 🙂 I think there are a lot of people who would say that the style and focus of your business are pretty much the last thing that an aspie would do for a living but it sounds like you’ve found your calling and are very good at it. I hope that as more and more adults get diagnosed, we can start busting some of those outdated stereotypes. I have a friend who is on the spectrum and is a social worker, which is another profession that seems an unlikely choice, but she’s also great at what she does and has a passion for it that I think few people could sustain over decades of work in such a demanding field.
I assume from your hints that you’ll somehow be incorporating your diagnosis into your website after talking with your children?
December 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm
This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing the background and your website. 🙂 I think there are a lot of people who would say that the style and focus of your business are pretty much the last thing that an aspie would do for a living but it sounds like you’ve found your calling and are very good at it. I hope that as more and more adults get diagnosed, we can start busting some of those outdated stereotypes. I have a friend who is on the spectrum and is a social worker, which is another profession that seems an unlikely choice, but she’s also great at what she does and has a passion for it that I think few people could sustain over decades of work in such a demanding field.
I assume from your hints that you’ll somehow be incorporating your diagnosis into your website after talking with your children?”
Could not respond directly to your post so I copied it here.
I think that the reason that I am able to do what I do includes the reasons you mentioned about your friend. If I did not love it, have a passion for helping others, wanting to make a difference in the world, and a passion for the work, I could never do it.
It’s not without it’s challenges for sure. If I’m having a sensory overload day, or something that week has left me churning I can feel it. The tools that I use, HeartMath, WI etc. help to settle me. They are part of the reason I became a coach. I was going through a difficult divorce, had moved cross country and found myself with a new partner who turned out to be not at all who I thought he was. I can see now that was the naive bit of me, the Aspie who completely missed the signs. Thanks to a friend who was using these tools, she taught me some of them and they helped me to go from major meltdown to getting a clear head back so that I could make good choices for my daughter and I.
What also makes this work doable for me is that it is my own business. I don’t work for someone else per say, except for my client. I’m not punching a time clock which would be hard with a day where I might not want to leave my home. I don’t have to deal with office politics, overhead lighting (ack! florescents or any kind of overhead light save for sunlight) , water cooler chatter, or a host of other office related things that I know from previous experience working in a corporate setting are hard for me, impossible some times.
I’ve had my share of interviews over the years where I passed the interview very well but I know that after that exhausting 15 minutes to an hour in an interview, I could never keep that up all day and quit before I started.
I get to work at home, set my own hours and the time of day that is best for me, work in my PJ’s, on my deck, or for that matter anywhere I want.
I get to combine it with writing too, which I enjoy – even with the challenges that it has.
My coaching practice is a small one, and I have been on sabbatical since June or so with a deep determination to understand, once and for all what was going on with me.
This is my old blog, which I have not posted anything in for a very long time (years) http://wysewomen.typepad.com/
It’s been lying dormant because of my frustration with passwords and access.
I agree, there are a lot of stereotypes that need busting. As I look at and acknowledge the things that challenge me I’m also learning to focus on those things that I can do, and do well, in come cases really well, instead of minimizing them and just thinking oh, that’s a thing.
My therapist pointed that out to me the other day. Reminded me of where I have come from and all that I have accomplished.
Yes, after our kids and those that matter to us know, I will be sharing more about my own journey and looking at how this could help others. I know that process will definitely be a two way street as I have learned over the years as a coach The clients – students – people that I’ve worked with are most often those that are walking a path I have walked in the past, are walking it now, or are beginning to walk it. I’m not the expert in their lives, they are. I just get to hold space and help through listening and sharing tools. All of the good coaches that I know coach in a similar style.
In what might seem odd to some, I am grateful for what I know now. Being diagnosed, finally has given me a peace I’ve been trying to find all of my life. I know it’s the early days of confirmation and there are going to be ebbs and flows with this whole process, just like when I was diagnosed with Epilepsy last year. I rode that wave too, along with my family and I, we, are better for understanding it today.
And then there are those moments when part of me says run!!! I had a moment like that at Target the other day. Afternoon of my diagnosis and I walked into the store and some part of me just suddenly felt like I was dying. Fear, panic, big run feeling . . . It passed, I was tired afterwards, and saw it for what it was, earth rattling news in my world.
Even though I had suspected, knew it in my heart, hearing; “Yes, you have Aspergers, how do you feel hearing that?” tilted my personal earth on it’s axis for bit. So it goes . . .
As I have shared here before, I am so grateful that I found your blog. I don’t know how I found it but it is one of the best in my opinion and it has helped, a lot. 🙂 Thank you!
Ah, you’re welcome. I’m so glad you found the blog too.
I think that loving what you do can overcome a lot of the hurdles that trip us up with other things. Like i used to teach martial arts to kids, which meant a couple of hours a day interacting with a class full (sometimes as many as 25) of little ones plus dealing with parents and walk-in potential students, etc. It was a huge amount of daily interaction for me and yet I didn’t find it nearly as overloading as I would something that I enjoyed less and had even half that amount of demand on my resources. I didn’t even mind talking with parents about their kid’s lessons, etc because it was something that I could talk about day and night and never tire of. Something being a passion makes all the difference.
I really don’t know what I’d do if I had to work for someone else with regular hours and a boss and going to an office or job site every day. I mean, I did it part time as a teenager, but I don’t think it would be viable long term. I’ll happily work 60 hour weeks for myself when necessary but that’s because I can work at home, when and how works best for me. Sometimes that means starting work at 5 AM and calling it a day in mid-afternoon and sometimes it means having to take off most of a weekday but working all weekend. I’ve learned to roll with it, especially (finally) the taking time off when I need to part. 🙂
I hate being told to calm down, too. Hate it like poison, even if I’d actually prefer to calm down and relax. Who wants to take orders about what they’re feeling? Who even physically can? What works really well for me is if the person I’m talking to gets quieter. I naturally get calmer and quieter, too, with zero offense given or taken.
I swear some people do it precisely because they know it will drive the other person nuts. I don’t know any person who responds well to that phrasing. However, even though I am very sensitive about how much I talk and my shameful inability to curb it sometimes, there are lots of ways I can be informed of a more constructive way to speak so that others can better follow what I’m saying. The thing that really annoys me, however, is when someone snidely remarks about how much I – or perhaps someone else – talks and then when the words shrivel up and die inside me, there is an awkward silence until another talkative person comes along and takes over. So the person doing the silencing hasn’t even got anything to say! They will likely see it differently but this behavior I really don’t get.
I think the motivation behind this is probably “I’m very uncomfortable with all this (often negative) emotion and I want it stop RIGHT NOW.” Even if the person knows (or is told) that this phrase WILL NOT WORK, their desire to just make the uncomfortable thing GO AWAY can often override just about everything else.
I never thought of it quite like that, not on this issue at least. That makes sense to me.
I’ve been told I talk too loud on occasion-it’s more obvious in a group setting, less so when it’s one-on-one, because the more people that are talking, the more I start to feel like I have to talk over them or I talk in a whisper. Also I wonder if it translates into music playing? I’ve had critiques stating that I’m not playing certain lines clearly enough or that I need to project more.
That’s interesting about your music playing. I don’t have any experience with an instrument but I’d be curious to know if others have had similar experiences.
Wow that’s really interesting. I often was told to improve my hand position and play more clearly/stop holding notes down/finish one note before going on to the next one (I play piano), but it was a normal thing that I thought only applied because I was a piano student. Lots of people got similar critiques–most often in the lessons themselves. I’ve had good teachers who wouldn’t let us participate in festivals or competitions unless they thought we were ready, so most people got very good scores.
But yeah, it could be that more “sluggish” movements feel more comforting, so that’ll translate to just about anything. (I also shuffle when I walk.)
I am generally quite soft spoken but when I forget to put on my ‘Phone Voice’ I am often asked if my mummy or daddy is home. That’s embarrassing. Also loud fast speech can make me anxious as it makes me feel oppressed. My speech comes slowly and with much thought and effort at times and If I am with a loud fast person I can be nearly silent as it almost feels dangerous to get a word in edgewise, like merging into fast traffic or making a left turn. Despite trying to learn I am still too anxious to drive. On the flip side loud fast people who entertain themselves with their own talking can be nice as it sometimes frees me from the social requirement of participating. That sounds more depressing than I meant it to.
I think I get where you’re coming from Beth. I’m pretty sure one of my brothers could have written this. Loud people in large groups do seem to bother him and he does tease me about being a loud, talkative person, but he has also said that I free him from having to do any talking if he doesn’t want to; he likes to let all the words just wash over him sometimes. He finds it comforting.
Lol…I am also always asked if my mommy and daddy are home…and I have an eleven year old! I love it tho because it gives me an easy out of teller marketers if I accidentally pick up. I just say “No my mommy is not here. thanks for calling.” And it’s the truth! My mother isn’t in my home:) I could see how fast speech could make you anxious…I go the other way where slow speech makes me feel anxious…I usually end up day dreaming either way if I am not included in the conversation. BTW- I am an awful driver and I refuse to drive anywhere but our small neighbourhood:) Due to dyspraxia. Your comment wasn’t depressing:) I totally understand:)
We have both been mothers for eleven years. And I have to remember the “no mummy isn’t here” thing for next telemarketer.
I could actually see slow speech being anxiety provoking as people have to hold on longer to hear what I am saying and if maintaining focus is an issue it can be painful to wait for my words especially if you are waiting to share your own words. When we are trying to accomplish something (make plans, fix dinner, put the kids to bed) my husband gets impatient if my words are coming really slowly or if I’m not making sense as it feels almost like wasting time to him. “Can you hurry up so I can get things done?” is often the sentiment although he always waits even if he is feeling impatient.
I understand completely what you mean by being free from the social requirement of participating. I find participating very tiring, especially in noisy situations. And no, it’s not depressing, it’s simply part of our lives.
I must confess that when I first read your comment about turning left being dangerous, I pictured an extremely timid driver until it occurred to me that you are probably referring to a location where you drive on the right ☺
🙂 Got a chuckle out of that. Yeah we drive on the right.
Reading the comments about driving and for some reason the comments my kids and others have made about my driving is now coming into the picture of my recent Aspie diagnosis. I tend to shuffle my feet more than a plan walk – that might contribute to my tripping 😉 I eat much slower than my husband and in general others around me because I have to really chew my food and swallow in small bites, and keep liquid nearby for meals – and then there is the driving thing. I am a very cautious driver – I leave lots of room between me and the car in front of me and at traffic lights I’ve had others comment about how slow I go to turn or move through the intersection. Maybe it’s my processing speed and I really want to make sure I did not miss something before I move ahead. Maybe it’s another level of the sensory processing thing. Movement and judging distance, seeing the whole picture rather than just the details. More to contemplate. Thank you. :>
‘Plain walk’ not plan walk. 😉
If I don’t put on my phone voice I get called “Sir”. 🙂
“like merging into fast traffic or making a left turn”
This is such a great analogy for how perilous fast-moving conversation can feel!
I had a private career guidance session the other day with a therapist and 30 minutes of the lesson was spent practicing shaking hands and introducing myself and a good deal of that after I got eye contact and words down was all about fixing my tone. So hard.
That sounds stressful! Do you find that coaching and practicing help you perform better at work or in job interviews? I’ve always thought I would benefit from this kind of thing but I wonder how much I’d be able to stick to what I’d learned under stress.
Reblogged this on victorymutt and commented:
Really good post. Even the comments section is an enjoyable read. 🙂
Thanks for explaining your terms! You did it well and I get frustrated when people just assume I’ll know all these unfamiliar words and abbreviations. Yes, I can look them up–but providing context is nice. Especially in a blog post.
For me, loud = some form of excitement, and soft = normal. SO many people tell me they can’t understand me, that I’m not speaking clearly, or that I need to speak up. 😦
This was also helpful because I’m in school for becoming a dog trainer. I’ll have to keep it in mind. I mean, it may seem like an obvious thing–but sometimes we miss the obvious.
You’re welcome! I try to define unusual terms because when I first started reading about Aspergers I was completely lost. People would casually through around terms I’d never heard before and I spent more time looking them up than reading the information I’d come for.
I hope my critique of the dog training instructor wasn’t too harsh. I’ve had other instructors who were incredibly flexible and really made it a point to find out how each person/dog pair worked best together. That made me feel like I could be myself and still help my dog learn good manners and feel secure. In fact, the trainer who was most like that was the one that we eventually passed the Canine Good Citizen test with. Only 3 teams out of 10 in the class passed, so I was quite proud of us. 🙂
I also haven’t come across the word prosody until now. Fascinating thoughts and comments here. I don’t like to hear my recorded voice, I know that. It sounds like a stranger. I usually speak quietly. If I’m told I can’t hear you I then shout and my voice sounds metallic. I don’t like my shouting voice but I don’t seem to have a middle ground.
The topic of interruptions is one that I find worth pursuing further. I find it difficult to know when to jump into a conversation. Even if it is only one other person. I often jump in at the wrong time, upsetting the other person. If I don’t say something I will miss my chance. Is it better to just say nothing sometimes? Sometimes they never stop talking so … when does a conversation become a monologue if one doesn’t participate. Do I have to wait till the other person stops for a breath or when they have finished? As someone mentioned if I don’t have anything to say, I don’t bother.
I think I have a middle ground, but it’s very flat (monotone) and I tend to not spend much time there anyhow.
I have two draft posts on conversation patterns and turn taking behavior. Maybe I should actually finish one of them. There are apparently specific prosody and nonverbal cues that indicate when it’s your turn to speak. Even now that I know them, I still can’t make good use of them, but they do exist. 😉
I look forward to your further posts on prosody. Today was a good day for me and timing in conversation. 🙂
Again, it’s so fascinating to read about this from the autistic person’s point of view. I have so much to say but I’ll try to keep it short. First thing is that our two dogs are treated exactly the same, and understand our commands and body language equally as well as the other, even though one has always been deaf.
There are a few LOUD talking Aspys in my family, and a few quiet mumblers. I’ve always had trouble understanding my daughter. Now I’m having trouble understanding my 15 yr old granddaughter for the same reason. I’m torn. And I’m so sorry to the folks who feel so bad when people ask you to slow down, or speak louder or quieter… the thing with me is that I REALLY want to hear what you’re saying! I don’t want to pretend I’m hearing and understanding it.
It was interesting to me when my twin daughters took acting classes at age 17 (one on the autism spectrum, one not) .. I went to pick them up after class one day, and was sitting out in the hallway waiting for them. The door to the classroom was open and the instructor was going from person to person, asking them to say in a loud voice “ORDER IN THE COURT!” Each student did it the way they were asked, but when they got to my Aspy twin, she couldn’t say it in the proper tone. The teacher had her try it several times, and she just did it the same ‘flat’ way each time.
The twins are in their 30s now. Whenever I’m in my Aspy’s store, I see her interacting with her customers, and she is amazing! My heart fills with pride. She has this ‘professional person’ personna that is so perfect. Her co-workers love her, as do her customers. She’s the sweetest thing. She’s always been the best salesperson, since she was 21. But she says it does wear her down. It’s always good to get home after work and ‘be herself’ again!
I always said to myself, as she was growing up.. she’s one of the greatest teachers in my life. I didn’t know why until she was diagnosed at age 28. EVERYTHING made sense in that moment.
That’s all for now.
Yes, a diagnosis can clear up a lifetime of confusing experiences, for both the autistic person and their family members.
Perhaps you could try a card or hand signal system with your granddaughter if she’s open to it. A few people here have mentioned that being helpful in self-modulating and less emotionally painful than being constantly verbally reminded to slow down or talk at a different volume.
Also, what you say about your daughter having a professional persona that she finds very draining is so common among those of us who work or go to school. It’s a bit like being on stage all day and then just wanting to collapse when you finally get home and can stop “performing.”
Carol-What you say about everything making sense rings very true for me– and my mother and husband I think too. I’m still in the diagnosis process but “Everything makes sense now!” is something that I have repeated to my husband and mum many times over the last few months.
Wow the science behind this is very interesting, thanks for linking to that!
And oh boy, I have this trouble all the time! Many people have told me that I need to quiet down when I start talking (or you know, just going off on a ramble) about something I’m passionate about. And yet when I’m in normal conversation I’m always being asked to speak more loudly because they can’t hear me! But I think maybe more intuative people are okay with you having a monotone voice…A good friend of mine told me that when she first met me, I sounded very monotone to her all the time. But over time she has gotten used to it and can now distinguish my varying tones, even if they are less extreme in difference compared to a non monotone voice.
Also, I really agree with you that dogs rely on body language much more then verbal, and I’ve been told many times that the sign of a very strong relationship with a dog is when you are able to give it commands by using only hands/gestures and no talking commands. Dog hierarchy is completely established by body language, my four dogs seem to communicate amongst each other mostly in this way too. Dogs are the best haha!
I’m a person who values nuances in general, and that may be part of why I’ve always loved the faces and voices of the ASD kids I’ve met. Not that such feelings of affinity can necessarily be operationalized – nor need they be, thank goodness – but I hope that makes some sense. I like to experience the reward of paying attention, too, I guess, and there’s a lot of that.
I do think that people can pick up on the more subtle variations in voice as they get to know us. It just takes some patience and learning. My husband knows from my voice if I’m on the verge of a meltdown or feeling really emotional when to most people it might just sound slightly higher and faster (or, you know, like it actually has some intonation).
Dogs are such amazingly perceptive creatures. And 4! That’s like my dream pack. We only have one because of her hip problem–I can’t imagine having to keep an eye on multiple dogs all day long to keep them from roughhousing and her getting hurt. But maybe in the future we could have multiples.
Wow where to begin.For the longest time when i had something to say it would be all at one time as fast as i could go. I think that was my way of not having to stop and then start the conservation again.Guess i was so nervous that i would say it twice to the same person so I would only say it to one person. . I worked for many years as a docent. Doing the same interpretations over and over i could see the how the reactions of people would change with my sometimes uneven presentations.I think the reactions of the K to 6th grade were the most help.I think learning the material and most of the reactions let me concentrate on what to emphasize,the inflections and pace.I watched many Newscasts which help the most and then movies. On my “low voice” days the children seemed to pay more attention. My default interpretation went from monotone when i first started to a sing song kinda cadence at the end. I have been out of work for 3 years now and my speech seems to be changing again. Animals, I found that with 20 or so screaming kids on the wagon the horses could pick out my voice when talking quietly to them. With the oxen it almost seemed like if i thought about they did it.What they do is read your body language. You could have 4 different people driving them 4 different ways and if each person drives them their way consistently they will understand and work for them “if” they expect them to. Young children and animals are willing to accept different communication styles. Young adults, adults?????????????
That’s interesting that the younger children were the ones who provided you the most useful feedback. I think young children are refreshingly honest in their reactions and responses to things. It sounds like have a set performance that you delivered repeatedly was a really good forum for zeroing in on how your voice affected people’s reactions. If the information was the same each time, then your delivery must be a pretty significant factor in things like interest level and engagement. That sounds both fascinating and a bit scary to experience.
Reblogged this on Melissa Fields, Autist and commented:
Yes, this too!!
Well that was strange, I did not think my response to your post would go where I thought it would go, but it did. 😉
When I was talking about interviews in my 12.9.14 post above, I meant job interviews that I went on, passed, and then did not take the job because I knew I would not be able to keep up that level of interaction all day.
“Like i used to teach martial arts to kids, which meant a couple of hours a day interacting with a class full (sometimes as many as 25) of little ones plus dealing with parents and walk-in potential students, etc. It was a huge amount of daily interaction for me and yet I didn’t find it nearly as overloading as I would something that I enjoyed less and had even half that amount of demand on my resources. ”
I saw that you were a teacher. I really enjoyed reading about that part of your life in your book, which is great by the way. I’m thinking about giving a copy of it to both our girls.
I may gift a copy to our local library as well after Christmas. We need to fill the public arena with good information!
I could tell how much of an impact martial arts had in your life. I love the idea of being involved in sports too, but doing it in a way that means you can be part of a team, if you’d like, but compete with yourself, such as you did, or in bowling, or gymnastics etc.
Another Aspie here. I can identify with this. In my case, people often complaint that I talk too loud, or too soft.
(And people often don’t believe me when I speak the truth, and I am a convincing blogger but never seem to win adults over to my POV in real life? It slightly baffled me.)
The comments here – with children understanding better than adults – explain why I can be a convincing and enthusiastic Sunday School teacher for children, despite the ways adults see my speech. Children see I care. Adults see I don’t meet all the standard unwritten social rules.
I am often told that I am being way too loud.
I can’t tell you how many times I was told “Don’t be so loud.” as a kid, especially when I got excited about my special interests.
My roommate also would ask, “why are you being so loud?” Quite frequently in my recent life.
I am changing my prosody because I am teaching myself how to sing. I stand and sit up straighter after playing the flute. Being a musician (flutist and vocalist), I take improving at playing my instrument very seriously. I have a normally soft and flat voice, which adversely affects the way my pitches sound.