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When clear communication isn't as clear as you think

We often talk about the need for clear communication for autistic people. However, it is something that can be a massive challenge for autistic people when communicating with others. Just because autistic people need clear communication doesn't mean that they can give clear communication themselves.


It can be very challenging for parents or carers of autistic children to understand, particularly if they are used to clear “black and white” responses from their child. Often autistic people will give "clear" or simple communication that contain “reaction words” at a time of heightened anxiety and/or overload.


Examples range from a simple “no” to “I hate you”. They are clear concise phrases which will provoke a response but are not necessarily a true reflection of what the autistic person feels or wants to communicate.


It can be very difficult to work out in these situations what phrases are a true reflection of how they are feeling, and what are not.


If your child communicates a response which you believe is done to provoke  a reaction (e.g. i hate you), it is always a great idea to think before responding. Look at your child and see if you believe it is a genuine response or one that has been done to provoke a reaction to express something they are feeling, or a frustration. 


Check your surroundings and environment, are they trying to tell you something else entirely but don't know how to? So they say something that will get your attention, maybe even get you to leave the environment. You may not be leaving for the reason the child needs to, but you are meeting their need to leave and it works.


So your child may use simple and clear communication, but the words they use may not be the real message they are trying to communicate.



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