Thursday, September 8, 2011

Use Your Words

There's this phenomenon that happens to me sometimes when I'm talking to someone.  It's a source of great frustration.  It occurs at different times. There's more than one type, but the end result it always non-communication. 

For example, I might have something that happened to me that I'm excited to talk about,or something I read. (Yes, I get super excited to share things I read about with others. :) ) I wait all day for my husband to come home so I can tell him.  He comes in and starts talking about his day.  He goes on and on... totally not following my script of what I envisioned.  I begin to try to reroute the words to fit the new criteria.  I can't.  The words get stuck.  They won't come out.  They swim around inside my head in circles not making sense.  I feel so frustrated that I want to cry, and sometimes I do.  I have to wait until later to tell him what I wanted to, because at that moment I am way too overwhelmed.

Another scenario is when I am in a group of people having a conversation.  My brain can't seem to process their words fast enough to keep up with the conversation.  I have words that I'd like to add to the conversation.  I have opinions that I can vaguely make out inside my head with fuzzy pictures and fluttering words.  I just can't get them out fast enough.  This also happens when I get overwhelmed by sensory or emotion. I feel like a computer running on too little RAM.   I can type, but feel overwhelmed with the prospect of verbalizing what I want to say.  Sometimes, I will repeat the same thing over and over.  Others, I will give a quick short answer that may not be my true thoughts, but rather what I think will get you to leave me alone, because my real explanation would take too many words and right at that moment, each word verbalized is painful. 

The frustration that this causes immense.  I have to wonder if this is how my nonverbal son feels all the time? Does he have these elaborate thoughts, or even simple wants and needs that he desperately wants to share with others, but can't?  When I get this way I find it so isolating.  I feel like I can't connect with others, because there is this wall of miscommunication between us.  Does he feel this way all the time?  Does he feel this way sometimes?  Does he feel lonely?  I know that I do at times when I can't share my thoughts.

So, when you ask an autistic child to 'use their words' as is so common, please, please remember that they're probably trying their best.  They're already frustrated about it and aren't not using their words just to be lazy or get out of putting in effort.