Saturday 2 July 2022

Interpreting Social Nuances

Interpreting social nuances!

I'm fairly certain that this is something that every adult, regardless of whether they are neurodiverse or neurotypical, had issues with as a teenager - interpreting what other teens did and said. But over time, most people become fairly apt at interpreting hat others do and say.

Individuals who are Autistic, or are neurodiverse in other ways, may have ongoing struggles to understand and interpret the social nuances and other subtleties that are present in our every day communication with others.

This is something that we have been dealing with over the last few years as the little superheroes grow older and their social interactions with others become trickier to decipher. We're often told "it's just teenage children being typical teenage children," but both little superheroes are far from being "typical" children.

The interactions that they are struggling with are typical teenage children interactions, but when you put Autism and ADHD into the ring with the interactions, both little superheroes genuinely struggle to understand what others are saying and doing.

Deciphering hidden messages and meanings, sarcastic comments (when you may not understand sarcasm,) non-verbal communication messages - all of these can cause communication with others to be quite difficult as the Autistic individual may not be to understand what is being communicated.

Autistic individuals are often very literal - they say what they mean - and they are often very direct. We often make the comment that you shouldn't ask either of the little superheroes a question that you don't want an honest answer to! They will tell exactly what they think. And from their body language we can also tell exactly whether they like, or don't like something!

Being literal in their communication style does not mean that there is anything wrong with how an Autistic individual communicates - it is just a different communication style.

So what can you do when communicating with an Autistic individual to ensure that there is little confusion on their part?

You could try to ensure that you are direct in your communication with them - say what you mean, and mean what you say. This means trying not to use figure of speech - in other words, speech that has hidden meanings. Figure of speech is often used to hider the true meaning of speech without being sarcastic. other times people may want to say one thing but directly imply the opposite. Figure of speech can also be used to say something nice in a rude way, or something rude in a nice way. 

Figure of speech can be incredibly confusing even at the best of times - I always struggled with this communication style as a child especially when it was one of my favourite uncles who used it. His sense of humour was, and still is, very dry and he showed very little emotion when using figure of speech, so trying to interpret what he was saying was near impossible.

Try not to hide the true meaning of your speech.

Unless you know that an individual understands the concept sarcasm, try not to be overly sarcastic in your communication.

Autistic individuals, as well as other individuals are have different abilities can be taken advantage by those that they come into contact with - often it is due to the literal nature of these individuals as well as the fact that many who are disabled only see the good in others. If you have a hunch that this is occurring, please step and say something. Be the person for the Autistic individual in that moment.

If an Autistic individual confides in you that they struggle to understand and interpret social communication, please be understanding. Take the time to talk with them about what could be meant by others.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog. I do read all the comments that are posted. Thanks so much for stopping by. Jen xx