My Autistic Experience of the Human Communication Spectrum


Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on Feb 28, 2022. The video’s public release will be May 11, 2022 – several months early.

ID: Lyric, a pale skinned nonbinary person with short green, teal, purple, pink, orange, and yellow hair with shaved sides and jet black roots is sitting behind a white microphone in an RV with dark wood panel walls. The words “Human Communication is a Spectrum ” floats in front of them in pale teal and green letters.

Transcript:

Very few things in life and the world around us are binary.

Often those things, that are binary in the world, are concepts or things that are created by people: binary code, binary gender labels… but the truth is, we talk a lot about spectrums here on this channel, humanity is a spectrum, just like autism and neurodiversity, are spectrums.

It is not linear from more Autistic to less Autistic. It’s a lot more nuanced. There are shades and colors and varied ways with which our experience can be different an varied, because of the way our brains are wired.

Human sexuality is a spectrum. It’s not straight or gay. There’s lots of in-between, gray areas. Human gender identities…that’s another spectrum.

Even human sex is a spectrum.

Things are not as clear or one way or the other, as people tend to imply, and human communication is also a spectrum.

If you would like to know more, please do stay tuned.

Not knowing that I was Autistic for the first 29 years of my life, meant that I had a lot of miscommunications with other people, because I did not understand the differences in Autistic and non-Autistic communication, or the differences in human communication, and how my communications were often being misinterpreted by the people around me; and also how I was constantly misinterpreting what other people were trying to communicate with me, because I didn’t understand communication differences, and I assumed that everyone communicated like me. When you do this, it’s really hard to decode other people’s intentions.

The other thing about communication, as an Autistic Person, that I struggled with, in not knowing that I’m Autistic, is that a lot of people in the world, naturally, learn to read human body language and facial expressions, and I didn’t do this.

People tend to expect you to be able to “read the room.” Whatever that means. I’ve never been able to do this.

I, only, since finding out I’m Autistic, at the age of 29, almost 30… I’m starting to be really interested in human communication, and human body language, and facial expressions, because it never occurred to me to look for non-verbal signals, to see how their people are feeling… until I found out I was Autistic and learned that that’s what a lot of people around me do.

It’s mind boggling to me. So I’ve been, I’ve been really obsessed with the differences in human communication since a little over five years ago now, when I, when I learned about myself and how my communication differences majorly impacted my life.

In Autistic spaces, a lot of times, we will talk about communication output and input.

Those of us who have audio processing differences, like I do, may struggle to, really, grasp and process spoken information, as it’s assigned to us. That means we may need to get things in writing, or given to us another way, that’s visual, instead of through the ears.

Or we talk about how outgoing communication can be impacted, as an Autistic Person, and how some of us may or may not communicate with our mouths… or how, despite the fact that, we communicate with our mouth most of the time, sometimes we may not be able to do that; and that written or typed communication, which is actually where I feel I find my voice more so, than in speaking like this. That’s why I do a lot of scripting, typing and scripting…. is easier for us.

We don’t talk as much about some of the other communication differences:

The fact that some people are very instantly ready to discuss something that they’ve just learned, or the fact that some of us need additional time to process, and adjust, to new information and may not be ready to communicate right there in the moment, or how anxiety impacts our communication, because if we are feeling anxious, or unsafe, we may be closed off and, hold back, because we feel unsafe, and we are uncertain about if what we have to say will be accepted. If we don’t have emotional safety, that impacts our communication.

There’s direct communication, and indirect communication, and all of these different things, and different ways people communicate… none of them wrong, but some of them valued or looked down upon by societies, more than others.

A lot of my communication tendencies are things that are frowned upon in many different kinds of professional settings, or other kinds of common settings in society today.

For example, my personal communication style, if I am true to myself and communicate authentically, tends to be very direct. I can be quite blunt, and will say what I’m thinking. I don’t naturally sugarcoat things, but I have learned that some people communicate more softly, and those people I find are hard to decode, that don’t just come out and say what they need, because I’m someone that I need people to just come out and say exactly what it is they’re thinking, and not dancing around the point. My feelings won’t be hurt by that.

 I am more confused and perplexed when I am left guessing, trying to figure out what somebody wants, instead of them just telling me.

Some people can’t handle that directness, that intensity, with which I commuted. So I, I know there are some people that I have to soften my words, and soften mysel for, if I want to choose to communicate with that person.

Some people I’ve really cared about, over the years, especially when I was younger, in my late teens, and early adulthood, didn’t really understand the way words have impacts on others.

One of my friends once told me that my words “cut people like glass” and they knew I was really “not a mean or a cruel person, but just the way I spoke to people could make them feel very, very small” which was never intentional.

I just tend to really call things like I see it. I didn’t realize, for a long time, how can be hurtful sometimes, and some people really can’t handle that. Likewise, you know, I do this flex and this dance to soften my communication, to make it less direct, because it is too intense for some people, but there’s only so much softening I can do.

I need people who are fluffy, and soft, and very indirect, to do more of the flexing, and be a lot more direct with me, which I feel should actually be easier. Just say what you’re thinking. Just say what you mean. Just come out and spill it. Don’t leave me guessing. I cannot read the unspoken cues, that some people, are used to depending on to communicate with.

I am also someone who tends to question things. I need to know the why behind everything; behind why someone is asking me to do something, why I need to do something, how something works. I need to understand all of that very intimately, in order to be able to make accurate decisions and act.

That impacts my communication, because I am asking a lot of questions, and I am questioning things, when people are talking to me about things. That can come off, to some people, as if I am questioning them, or I am being rude or difficult, because I’m asking all these questions.

 In reality, I’m asking questions, so that I can understand. Some people don’t understand that need, to have all of that information, to be able to make a decision.

Some people don’t need all of that information, in order to be able to make a decision, and those people communicate very differently from me, someone who needs all of the details to make the decision.

I am someone who tends to be very logic focused. I like to make my decisions based on logic, and facts, and understanding the situation clearly, versus feelings, and emotions, and how things make me feel. I need to make logical decisions, and that impacts my communication, because some people make decisions based on feelings… and that’s not wrong… it’s just not how I roll.

 That causes problems in communicating with people, as well, because I come off as “too cold” “too logical” and not compassionate, and not having enough feelings, or sensitivity to feelings around an issue, where I’m just trying to make a logical decision. Which is also why I need to take more time, to fully process and digest information, before I can speak up.

Whereas some people, who are more driven by emotions and feelings, are often more likely to speak up right then and there… because they know exactly how they feel.

I don’t always know how I feel, gosh, darn it. Even when I’ve thought about it for a while, I have to process things, to figure out how I feel.

That really does impact my communication, and I have to be extra mindful in settings where I’m collaborating with people who are more driven by feelings and emotions, to remind myself to think more about feelings and emotions… which isn’t, necessarily, as natural to me when I’m thinking about decision making, if I were making decisions on my owm.

Because I need that extra time to process information, it has gotten me in trouble, with communicators who are instantly ready to jump into things.

Romantic relationships as a good example: if you will getting in an argument, with your romantic partner, and they are someone that needs an answer right then and there, doesn’t take time to process, doesn’t process on a delay, or doesn’t need time to think about how they feel, because they instantly know exactly how they feel… that’s very hard for me, because, if I go away to process something, they feel like I have gone away and left them, or that I’ve shut down the conversation, because I’m not ready to have the conversation just yet.

Something else, with communication, that I feel we don’t talk about enough, are the different ways that people think and experience the world, and the impact that that has on communication.

Using myself as an example again, being someone who is a visual thinker… I also think in music and patterns. I’m a visual and a pattern thinker, so I don’t have an internal monologue running in my head, naturally, constantly. There’s a lot of music running in my head.

When people talk to me, it paints pictures and movies and videos. That is how I experienced the world.

When I am thinking, I do math with blocks and visual concepts in my head. I don’t have words, or texts, or numbers, in my head, in the way that I hear some people do, which is kind of strange for me to imagine.

I can force an internal monologue into my head, but it’s, really, unnatural. I process things externally. I talked to myself. These videos are me, literally, processing my thoughts, or sometimes I’m writing and typing to process my thoughts externally, because certain concepts, especially feelings and emotions, and the things you need to be able to communicate in relationships with other people, so that you can understand one another better… those things aren’t visual.

I struggle, a lot, to conceptualize, define, and explain, some of those things, personally, because it’s just hard for me to grasp them, in my brain, since they’re concepts that are very obscure concepts, that don’t really have a visual, if that makes sense.

So being visual means, I’ve got to go through this process of, “okay, here- here’s what I’m thinking. Here’s what I’m experience- experiencing. And I’ve got it in my head. How on earth do I convey this to other people so that other people can understand? I have to somehow put this into words.”

 Sometimes there are things that I know, with every fiber of my being I know them, but I know there is no way in heck, I could possibly sculpt the words, craft the words together, in order to explain what it is I can see here, because it’s visual, it’s not in words. So it takes me a long time, sometimes, to go and process something that I understand without words, and find a way to put that into words.

These are just a few ways that my communication, as an Autistic Person, causes problems when engaging with, and communicating with people, who don’t communicate like I do.

I have found that in workplaces, and other areas, where people are more mindful of the differences in the human communication spectrum, and are more willing to meet me in the middle, instead of asking me to do all of the stretching, are rare but wonderful.

 I would love to invite everyone here to share like how. Do you communicate? How can people best communicate with you?

To best communicate with me, I would ask people to give me time to process information, especially new concepts and new information. Allow me to ask questions, so that I can make sure I understand, and that we’re on the same page.

I need people to be direct with me, and don’t expect me to read between the lines. I much prefer getting any kind of important details, deadlines, or things that I need to remember, in writing. Often, I would like to do the same, work out all of the important details that I need to share with you in writing, because I know that doing it spoken, won’t do it justice.

What are things that people can do to help you be able to communicate most effectively, and meet you where you are with your communication needs? Drop them in the comments below.

All right, All, thank you so much for hanging out with me this week.

If you found this video helpful, engaging, useful, entertaining, educational, hit that thumbs up, so I know you liked it, and if it was really that great, and awesome, and helpful, that you stuck around for the whole video… would you consider giving it a share, so that it might reach other people, that could also potentially find it useful or helpful too?

I really appreciate each and every single one of you, who share the videos, give your reactions, so that I know if I’m on track, if you like the videos, or comment, add video suggestions and feedback, and dropping your questions. All of that is extremely valuable, so thank you to each and every one of you who is here with me engaging, and helping me make this content, what it is. It wouldn’t be anything without you, that the readers, the viewers. Thank you for that.

Also, thanks to the Patreon scribers, YouTube channel members, and the Facebook supporters, who do that little monetary subscription, to help fund this blog, so that I can have great things like website hosting, transcriptioning software, some of the equipment that is used to record the footage.

All of this could not be done, without the help of viewers like you. I am incredibly grateful for each and every single one of you. Thank you all so much. I will see you next Wednesday. Bye.

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-Lyric

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