I have a new theory. Well, hypothesis, really. Not even that. Just a fun thought…
A friend of mine (not diagnosed as “Autistic” but definitely one of those people I feel instantly at ease around) recently left a comment on a blog I follow, in which she made the statement:
“And it still blows my mind how many people think auties and aspies are less empathetic. If anything, the ones I’ve met care more about other people’s feelings than the average NT, and better still, they’ll /ask/ me what they can do to help when I’m upset, rather than assuming.”
Yep, that sounds about right. I can’t stand it when a friend of mine is upset. But I also know I can’t read their mind. So I’ll ask them if I can do anything and/or if they need any help, etc. I don’t make any assumptions about what they need or don’t need. I don’t project my own self onto them and say “that’s what I would want so that must be what they need”. I simply note that they are upset, and then do my best to help them however they are able to communicate their needs. And if I do make an assumption, which I will do sometimes if they are unable to communicate directly, and I am WRONG about that assumption, I back off. I don’t try to force whatever it is on them. This goes for when they are not upset as well.
And it got me thinking…
It’s not that Autistic people are bad communicators.
It’s that NTs (or non-Autistics) are bad listeners.
Think about it… they have sub-par hearing (compared to our extreme senses), so they don’t hear everything that’s happening around them. Plus, they have to rely on nonverbal signals and other unrelated things like facial expressions to try to figure out what’s being said straight out to them! In plain, simple, unembellished, logical language! And even then they don’t really understand what is being communicated to them, so they make assumptions and generalizations, which can often be wrong (not always, of course). The logic of Non-Autistic communication does not make any sense to me.
This is all in good fun, of course. But it is food for thought. It really is like Autistics and Non-Autistics speak totally different languages. One is more direct and straightforward, while the other relies more on unspoken rules and motions. I know which one I prefer.