Steven C. Altabet, Ph.D.
Style of Communication
One of the keys to connecting to a person with Autism is to communicate with them in a manner that is consistent with the way they think and express themselves. In particular, people with Autism typically like to communicate directly and better understand what is being said when it is delivered in a direct manner. While many people like to convey what they mean without saying it directly, this type of language is often lost on a person with Autism. In fact, many times metaphorical language is misinterpreted to the literal meaning rather than its intent. In other words, if you want people with Autism to understand you, ‘mean what you say and say what you mean.’ Most people avoid speaking so directly in order to avoid offending the listener. While this may be true for most listeners, the person with Autism would likely appreciate the directness with which you are speaking. In addition when someone with Autism speaks to you, they are most likely not trying to be rude when speaking in this direct manner. That is just the way they prefer to communicate. After you have gained the person’s trust it may be ok to point out that what they just said may be perceived as rude, but there is no reason to be offended by it, because there was no intent to be offensive. If a person with an ASC wanted to offend you they would let you know.