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Autistic Confessions – I Literally Don’t Know How to “Talk” About My Autism (but I CAN Write it)

It is beyond frustrating that every single time I try to talk to someone in a face to face conversation about Autism and how it applies to me I am unable to make a clear point. What drives me crazy is if I am alone in a room I can easily type something up. Does this happen to anyone else?

People being near me scatters my brain unless I can tune them out – even people I like but it is WORSE with strangers.

This doesn’t just happen with Autism it also happens to other topics that I could write books about. I try to explain something to someone and  can tell they are completely lost.  Asking if I can send them an email later will raise an eyebrow. What is an Aspie with verbal communication impairments to do?

Oh – tell my readers!

What IS this? Do you experience it?

 

With love and curiosity,

Anonymously Autistic

“Anna”

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47 thoughts on “Autistic Confessions – I Literally Don’t Know How to “Talk” About My Autism (but I CAN Write it)”

  1. I believe it is something many people struggle with. Autism or not. I often find it difficult to articulate my thoughts verbally. Perhaps it is because I am more of a visual thinker as opposed to words. It can be difficult to convey what one sees and knows in her mind when it cannot be put into words quite so clearly.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Although I’m not on the spectrum I can relate. Writing about my personality disorder comes so naturally but I’m totally lost when I’m supposed to talk about it. My impression is that there’s more time to think when I’m writing and also I’m not distracted by someone else’s reaction…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve definitely experienced it, even though part of what I do is public speaking about autism. What people may not realize, is that even though I appear highly articulate when I am at a speaking engagement, everything I say is scripted in a sense. That is to say, if I have not written something, I cannot say it. If I have written something, it is now in my head the way I have written it, and I can speak what I have written.

    Because of this, when I have new experiences and people ask me about them, I can’t answer them until I have had time to journal about the experiences or write essays about them. It can take me days, weeks, months to be able to talk about something using my mouth. I think it might confuse people, because they hear all the words that come out of my mouth and develop an idea of me that includes the idea “Sparrow is highly articulate.” They don’t realize that speech is a second language for me and if I have that express something in writing first, I can’t talk about it at all. I have no words.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Anna, when I read your blog I immediately thought about my workaround for your (our) issue. Sparrow, you do something similar to my workaround. If there is something I want to talk about with other people (or more likely, something that I think will come up in a conversation) I imagine the conversation in my head, and work out everything I will need to say. I actually say some of the phrases I think up, out loud; I want to hear what they will sound like. When it comes time to have the conversation, I’m prepared.

      On the other hand, as a kid I was always being told that I was really boring because I talked incessantly about things nobody cared to hear about. Thinking back to those times, I was always prepared to talk about what I wanted to talk about (but I wasn’t really having conversations). Maybe I was always prepared to rattle off on some topic because I thought so much about those things it was like I had a “journal” in my head for them; trying to relate my unfiltered autistic behavior to what I do now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally am with you on this. While I am talking to someone, I get interrupted with “what’s that word I’m thinking of”. Or, I take too long a pause because I can get a word out. Now by myself, I can write plenty about my constant companion of autism. When I’m banging on my keyboard, going 90 to nothing, my computer is so kind. It doesn’t give me blank stares or look the other way. It doesn’t yawn or show other signs of disinterest. It doesn’t even try to get me to change the subject.. It doesn’t give me negative feedback of “you’ve got this subject on the brain”. I know the frustration of wanting to talk to someone about something so important to me but not finding a compassionate and listening pair of ears. Occasionally, though, I have a sit-down with someone who doesn’t give me blank stares or looks around the room as if I’m not there. Someone who says “Really”, “That’s Interesting”, and especially, “Tell me more.” It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is so sweet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In 8th grade, I was voted the quietest in the class but in 8th grade, I also had my editorial posted in the school newspaper. I had a Christian newsletter with my husband but I couldn’t put two sentences together verbally! I’ve been in trouble at work for miscommunicating a message! It goes on and on. I’m almost 58 and I was just diagnosed in November, 2016. I am having to be my own advocate in finding therapy and a doctor who believes the evaluation. And no way have I told family yet! Thanks for listening.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Can so relate to this. Doesn’t help that I burst into tears when having to explain things to other people. It’s like the words just aren’t there, whereas with writing all the words just come flooding out unprompted.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ditto!

    I find it difficult articulating my feelings without having them in writing; or typed up.

    Just today I was meant to arrange for a meeting with WAVE Trauma Centre – on account of my Father being killed in the ‘Troubles’ here in Northern Ireland – for Monday only to realise that I have Adobe Illustrator training on Monday. First world problems. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think that, though some NT’s may suffer what appears to be similar, some autistic may struggle because of the greater level of sensory jn formation they are constantly having to deal with. Where I might struggle with words or knowing what to say sometimes, I am not being bothered by the colour of the carpet, literally hurt by the fluorescent lighting or jarred by the fact that the person you’re talking to has just used a double negative out of context. My wife says that when she used to work in an office this is how it was for her. She can talk to me about anything but not to most people and when it comes to talking about herself she’s much better at writing it down that doing it face to face. :/

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The ability to explain things in writing better than in verbal communications is certainly not limited to those with any aspects of autism. I taught Sunday School classes for over twenty years, writing out my lessons word-for-word. Shyness prevented me from being comfortable enough to communicate what my heart wanted to say without that crutch. That is one reason I turned to blogging a couple of years ago and have been much less frustrated since then. Your insight in this brief post make me wonder if my ten-year old Aspie grandson might feel the same way. I hope someday he might be able to communicate his feelings better than he does today and perhaps doing so in writing might be an option for him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When my Dad died, I ran across a Fox Sports blogging group who wrote about NASCAR racing. Our entire family loved racing, women, too. I was able to share my grief and memories with them in a way that I couldn’t with anyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes. I do this all the time. For explaining concrete topics that interest me, I don’t have much trouble just babbling on. But when it comes to expressing my feelings, which is such an abstract thing and really hard for me to put my finger on, I feel like i NEED to put it to text. It helps me see the situation from the outside, and helps me process how I feel and why. Especially if I find myself in an emotional argument with my boyfriend (who understands my emotions even less than I do), I will try to go outside for a while, write it all down, and when I come back in I haven’t only calmed down, but I have been able to find the whole reason for why I felt like I did, which is very helpful for both of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Talking requires “real time response”, meaning one cannot take forever to say something. Otherwise, a conversation cannot develop.

    Talking involves a context that is changing as the talk goes on and the context is not entirely under one’s control.

    Combine it with the ability to read facial muscles and use one’s own, most people struggle to make and hold non-trivial conversations unless they face familiar people in familiar setting. As another comment mentioned, it is not just specific to people on Autism Spectrum.

    Writing gives full control over context definition to the writer.

    Writer has the freedom to compose the message at his own convenience, taking as much time as she needs.

    And writer does not have to worry how she or he looks, or about reading what that frown on the reader’s face really mean.

    I believe, however, that either can be developed to a functionally effective degree through dedicated practice.

    I used to be socially awkward and nerdy for most of my life. I ended up working as a sales person at a big firm. Practicing Stoicism helped. We Stoics are constantly putting us in awkward situations to see (and train) if we get agitated!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. When it comes to talking about autism, I have found that it is actually most difficult to talk to relatives, since they just flat-out don’t want to hear about it. It is also tough to talk to friends we know here in town, since you can almost see their eyes rolling (and some will say things such as, “Oh, we’re all a bit autistic”). Just yesterday, I made a very lengthy and public Facebook post on autism in hopes that some of them would read it – maybe they will read what I wrote if they won’t listen to me in person. I want to develop my thoughts and be accurate in what I say, and face-to-face conversations where I am just written off based on the first few sentences that I say just don’t cut it. Interestingly, I get very different reactions where I work. I have taught high school for 22 years, and I have “come out” to my students and staff as an Aspie. With my students, I have been able to have great conversations about autism, and some of them are on the spectrum themselves (we’re a magnet charter school for musically-inclined students, so we tend to attract the “offbeat” kids).

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I do know what you mean, when I am trying to explain autism or my autistic experiences I get lost face to face and the same applies to many other subjects as well. However if I move to talking about a topic that I specialise in like the impact of trauma on the developing brain or behaviour as communication in children that have experienced abuse I don’t have this problem. I think, but don’t know that this is related to my expectations of the interactions. In the case of sharing expertise the expectation is more likely to be about me imparting information that is not directly personal in a manner that is closer to teaching. Therefore it is easier to use verbal language to clarify understanding e.g. “what to you think”. Also the reply may leave me with a sense of frustration about struggling to make myself understood but any criticism or challenge of what I say is not personal but more topic oriented.

    When I talk about autism or other subjects that I associate with the is to a greater or lesser degree a part of me in the conversation, if it is something that is important to me in which I am invested or with which I associate, then I am more concerned with how what I am saying is being received. The problem is I am useless at being able to tell if people understand what I’m saying, what they feel about what I am saying, if they are interested or if they are judging me.

    I have a lot of experience at getting things wrong in social interactions and default to the assumption that things are being perceived negatively if there are not clearly overt displays to the contrary. This tends to result in increased levels of anxiety and non stop waffle from me as I real through saying the same thing as many different ways as I can, sure that nothing is making sense.

    Pen to paper or fingers to keyboard or the like reduces that amount of information I need to process and usually in an environment that I can control. Anxiety goes down and I can have a clearer train of thought. Also writing comes with a delete button for pre sharing editing. My mouth just spills it all out with little or no edit.

    Not sure this helps or if your post just gives me the opportunity to share my experience. I do hope it is helpful/informative/ useful or some combination of those.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I have anxiety and ADD and it is so difficult for me to express myself verbally. I get anxious and ramble and don’t make sense, which makes me more anxious and then I make less sense. Not to mention all the energy it takes to focus on the conversation itself. It’s difficult.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. For some things I found one useful analogy, that I can describe fairly easily.

    House circuit breakers and circuits of varying capacities, 15-amp circuits vs. 100-amp circuits… 🙂 (I’m not an electrician so this is really basic.)

    Some things that overwhelm my brain are out-loud verbal communication, loud noise, some emotions, and combinations of all these. I tend to get foggy, I feel like I am losing IQ points sometimes. Eventually I just sit and nod and try to “look normal”. Quiet females are generally tolerated in many situations, and ignored then.

    More recently, I am trying this analogy to explain some elements of my autism, esp. when losing brainpower in an out-loud conversation situation: I only have a 15-amp circuit in my brain for talking about this kind of thing, but a 100-amp circuit would be better! Sorry, I’m kinda getting fried and the circuit breaker is about to flip and my ability to talk about this is about to go offline. (Or something like that.)

    In my limited experience on this, I find people understand this analogy fairly well, and it feels good to me when they do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I relate. I only have a fuse box with 1 bulb. The kind of bulb that ‘supernovas’ before it implodes. I come from the era of incandescent only (for home use) light bulbs. The more sensory input, the more strain and limited communication I have. Too much, and I must leave or have a meltdown. Some sounds are too much for me to be around alltogether, like crying babies and barking dogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Aloha,

    Just wanted to share that you’r not alone. However, the way in which I make an idiot of myself is in reverse of yours.

    I can speak in front of anyone and Im an ok writer. But make me send an email to someone while Im mad at them and its countdown to losing that friend.

    We would make a perfect person when combined. : )

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I have depression, anxiety and ADHD. I also have a great amount of difficulty effectively articulating ideas, feelings and thoughts to other people. Especially when trying to discuss my disorders or mental health in general with people who already have their minds made up that I’m just making things up.

    By writing instead of speaking, it allows me more time to focus on using the exact words that I need to use, plus it allows me to organize my thoughts towards an audience that will be receptive to my message.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rosemeyer4, do you have any idea why people don’t believe you? I don’t have any of your conditions (the three you listed) but a lot of times people won’t believe what I’m saying either, even though I’m being 100% truthful. I’ve always thought this was because I don’t express the right type of emotions (the type of emotions these NT people expect for a truthful statement) while saying what I mean. If you’ve thought of a reason why people don’t believe you (or somebody has told you why they don’t believe you), I’d like to hear it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that we all have our own struggles that we are trying to deal with and it takes a lot of empathy and energy to understand someone else’s struggles unless they, too, are experiencing it themselves. It’s very difficult for someone who thinks differently (which we all do) to apply our experiences to their own lives in a productive way.

        I can talk to other people who have some of the same conditions as I do, only to hear that famous line of “Just suck it up and deal with it.” because they aren’t experiencing what I’m dealing with, under the conditions that I’m dealing with it and to the extent of how it affects me. It’s just very hard for some people to understand something that they haven’t felt themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. rosemeyer4,people who don’t have the same conditions can still have “traits” in common. E.g., autism, psychopathy, and schizophrenia are all different conditions with a common trait; alexithymia. Alexithymia has been increasingly studied over the years, and is being described now as a “spectrum” (like autism is called a “spectrum disorder”) “personality trait”. Most autistics (based on posts I’ve read on the Internet) have the type of alexithymia where they just feel dissociated (or maybe just “out of touch”) from their emotions; they feel high anxiety and have other issues. Then there are other autistics that have very shallow emotions, like a psychopath; they still act like autistics, not like psychopaths – it goes back to what you said about, “…because they aren’t experiencing what I’m dealing with, under the conditions that I’m dealing with it…”

          rosemeyer4, what I’m looking for is that commonality that causes a common issue; people not taking you seriously when you are being honest with them. Maybe I’ve been right about myself not having the appropriate delivery for the “truth”, but maybe it’s something else, and I was wondering if you had any other ideas on the matter since you also aren’t taken seriously by some people (“some people”; most people don’t have a problem believing what I say, so it makes me question my “delivery” hypothesis).

          Liked by 2 people

      2. Dave, I think that not expressing “the right” subtle little things that show “the right” emotions for some NTs may indeed be part of why they don’t believe us at times. I also have had a perhaps related issue when trying to talk about being very upset (in the hopes of getting support) to some NTs. They seemed to support people who could emote in a certain way, but my way of talking about feeling the same upset emotions, just got blank stares and no support. (This was in support groups, where one can pretty easily compare things like this.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. p.s. getting mildly shut down and frazzled by the group nature of these support groups was also not helpful, probably made me emote even less. I didn’t understand any of this at the time though, just got diagnosed last year at 52.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Greenleaf, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s shortly before turning 61. I was re-diagnosed last year with HFA, at the age of 62. I think I was better off being undiagnosed. I was a substitute teaching assistant in an ESE classroom (for a couple of weeks) last year; those kids would’ve been better off undiagnosed, too. I received one helpful piece of advice on this blog site (about getting more feedback from supervisors on the job), but aside from that, I haven’t been helped at all as a result of being diagnosed. My question to rosemeyer4 was just another attempt to find something (personally) useful based on not being NT.

            Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Dave, I’m sorry that getting diagnosed didn’t get you more useful assistance…

        If this is helpful at all, it seems like it’s extremely early in the process of there even being basic research on how to help HFA adults. Society seems to have just maybe perhaps figured out that we exist at all, that autism is not an “epidemic” in children that was caused by vaccines or whatever.

        Perhaps it’s partly up to our generation to try to change this situation, for those who come after us? As well as ourselves, one might even hope.

        I really like Tony Attwood’s Youtubes, I hope you’ve seen some of them? He seems to have worked with hundreds of HFA folks, male or female, and has some really helpful ideas. Plus I feel like he likes a lot of us and values our contributions, which just feels good to me. (As opposed to the focus on deficits constantly.)

        Re. who gets “believed” in health care… This is not just an issue for autistics and other neurodiverse folks.

        I think that our human “monkey brain” stuff might come into play, meaning our dominance hierarchy stuff that we share with other social mammals. If you look at differences in medical treatment by race and gender, you’ll see some interesting and awful stuff going on that I don’t believe is intentional on the part of most medical practitioners. For instance, pain is seriously undertreated in Black people and women in my country. The same groups get less aggressive and high-powered treatments for heart conditions; as a result survive less well, than white males. There could easily be other treatment differences, like wealthier people getting better treatment; that gets messier, since there could be economic (insurance coverage) differences in ability to pay for various treatments, and that could more blatantly influence treatments offered.

        If those subtle things are going on subconsciously in many medical folks when they evaluate whether someone’s physical pain merits relief, might there be other “social hierarchy” things going on, or whatever the heck is the cause, that influence how “believable” someone is about autism? Maybe we don’t fluff our dominance feathers out correctly? I keep forgetting to put mine on in the morning.

        Vaguely related: I took a self-defense class way back in which we were encouraged to walk like we owned the planet practically; potential attackers would be looking for someone they think won’t fight back as effectively or at all. It’s more than just physical size and strength.

        That is something that can be learned in self-defense classes! Maybe some things can be learned that help “believability” about true facts like having autism?

        I will look for research articles that might help; I bet these same things have been researched some but in different situations, using different words.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. p.s. when I said pain etc. are undertreated in various groups, it’s a statistical thing, this is from research studies. I can try to find them if you’d like but I bet you could just Google them yourself. scholar.google.com

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Also, it occurs to me that I’ve seen discussions on autism forums re. the nasty correlation between difficulty with eye contact and general social stereotypes of a person being dishonest.

          Maybe it’s hard sometimes for an NT to realize that the very lack of eye contact that’s causing them to doubt the autistic’s statement about being autistic, is due to the actual autism… Sort of a nasty loop blocking the NT from thinking it through? Just a thought…

          What if one said something like, “I don’t make good eye contact, a common issue in autism. Lack of eye contact is known to make people doubt someone’s words. However in this case, it’s due to autism and is a well known issue.”

          Could be phrased better, sorry…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I started working on eye contact at an early age, so i’m pretty good at maintaining eye contact now (for somebody with autism). Most people don’t have a hard time believing me, either. However, there are times when I’m doubted for no apparent reason. Besides my delivery hypothesis, it could be that I’m just running into low lifes every now and then. I’ve also thought that possibly I’m coming across as autistic at the time somebody doesn’t believe me (most people think that autism is some mental disease, so they’d be inclined to disbelieve anything you said); I’m not good enough at reading people to tell. In any case, I was wondering if there was an underlying issue that some non-NT people shared, that caused NT people to find them less believable.

            Liked by 1 person

  17. Every introvert’s nightmare, haha. I have that problem too… I have, more than once, written “letters” to a loved one about one thing or another, not because I was shy to tell them, but because I absolutely did not want to be accidentally rude, or be misunderstood. With things less important, I’m equally clumsy, but it doesn’t matter as much…

    On another note, I have nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. Here is the post: https://idaauclond.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/blogger-recognition-award/. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to – I know not everyone likes that kind of “chain”. Whether you do or not, I’m glad I had an opportunity to share your blog with others. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I find that if I’m verbally talking about my autism I can ramble on and I never know when to stop talking. Whereas if I’m writing at least I can edit and plan what I’ve said. Face to face you can’t do that. It’s very hard. I tend to look to the side of people more when I’m talking about my autism because I’m concentrating on what I’m saying because I want so bad to get it right!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I am much more confident and articulate when I write. Whenever I try to talk to people about my health or my son’s difficulties my mind goes blank…then afterwards I think ‘oh I should have said —‘. It’s so frustrating x

    Liked by 1 person

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