Those on the higher end of the autistic spectrum might not always appear to need extra support. Often these people are very bright, intelligent, and display remarkable abilities in specific areas such as math, the arts, and yes, even languages. But, what is the difference between being proficient in reading, writing, or speaking and communicating? One involves the ability to learn, retain, and recognize patters and their meanings while the other is more intuitive and concerns relaying those thoughts and meanings to others. Learning how to communicate is integral to developing emotional maturity, relationships, and self-esteem as humans are naturally social creatures requiring one another’s feedback to grow and feel validated in the world.
If language is a tool, those on the higher end of the spectrum have it – it’s just more difficult for them to learn how to use it despite a potentially extensive verbal repertoire. As children grow, their communication becomes more nuanced – making use of metaphors, idioms, and insinuations. Children on the Autistic spectrum have a harder time picking up on the social cues that come with these more advanced processes. This might cause them to feel ostracized from conversations; their intentions going misunderstood.
A Speech-Language Pathologist can help prepare those who fall into this group, to get the most out of social interactions. They may for example, work with a child (or adult), teaching them how to see another person’s point of view; often the autistic person defers to viewing situations solely from their own perspective. Through therapy, they’ll practise viewing others as unique individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Speech language autism therapy at Simone Friedman SLS, for example, can help Toronto-area children to recognize when they are commandeering a conversation, and pick up on non-verbal social cues that’ll help them decipher another’s wants or needs. It rarely comes easily or naturally, and takes a lot of discipline, but it is possible to re-wire impulses, patterns of behaviours, and instill awareness with practise. The earlier a person on the spectrum starts working with a professional – the higher their success rate will be when they get older.
People living with Asperger’s for example, are cognisant of the fact that they are different from those around them. They’ve expressed that their heightened senses contribute to their difficulty not only understanding social cues but picking up on them to begin with as they are so busy trying to comprehend their environments. Others admit to having a difficult time reading people, and only through therapy and training have they taught themselves the skills that seem to come so naturally to neurotypical people.
Even when doing their best to adapt, an individual with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) will benefit from a strong support system. As one grows older, learning how little control you have over others, and how they react in negative situations is difficult for even the most adjusted people. For someone with ASD, this relinquishing of control is a lifelong struggle, one that can trigger great anxiety. Through patience, and providing the option for professional help – people on the spectrum can begin to use their talents and gifts as tools for fostering positive relationships and experiences – creating safe havens and communities for when doing the work becomes overwhelming.