Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Autistic People Can't Communicate"

I don't understand this statement at all.  Two people are required to communicate.  So if there's a disconnect in communication between two people, then those two people are having trouble communicating as a group entity.  It doesn't make sense to say one person cannot communicate, because clearly one person by themselves cannot communicate, as it takes 2 individuals for communication to occur!   Autistic people obviously can't communicate with themselves, as no one can do that because that wouldn't fit within the definition of communication. If there's a problem between an autistic person and another person and they have a disconnect in communication, it doesn't make sense to blame it on the autistic person.  The autistic person is trying to communicate, the non-autistic person just isn't understanding.  Why is the burden on the autistic person to communicate in the way neurotypicals do, to speak or use body language in a way they understand?  Maybe part of the problem here is that the allistic person can't understand the way the autistic person has tried to communicate with them.

This is somewhat similar, to an English-speaking person and a person who speaks only another language (say, French - I'm using French because speakers of some other languages experience racially charged prejudice, and I don't want to make a false equivalence) trying to communicate.  It would be ridiculous for the English-speaking person to say, "Whoa, I don't understand this French-speaking person.  I guess they just can't communicate" and then write them off as a person who needs help because they aren't able to communicate.  Clearly they can communicate, the English-speaking person just doesn't speak their language.  It's really neither person's fault here, but it's certainly ridiculous to blame the non-English speaking party and try to "fix" them.  Possibly our language is sometimes very hard to understand, harder than French or English, but if someone spoke a language that was really difficult to learn, that still wouldn't mean they couldn't communicate.

Perhaps the problem isn't that us autistic people have trouble communicating, it's that we use different languages.   And maybe if you learned our language, you'd understand.  But you will never understand someone else's language if your first assumption is that they cannot communicate.

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