You wonder why it’s so hard to have a conversation with me. I have no idea what you are saying. Way before the trouble with dual meanings and taking things literally and the time it takes to process spoken language and the time it takes to formulate a response that will make sense to you, the first barrier is the noise. I asked you to slow down, and you tried to slow down, and you maybe did a pretty good job of it—not doing that thing people do to Deaf and Autistic people and people with intellectual disabilities and speakers of foreign languages, that thing where you lean in and double down on eye contact and enunciate as though lives depended on it— but actually slowing the pace of your conversation. Thank you for that. But what about the noise?
More than one person speaking at once or a TV on in the background or that terrible sound coming out of the tiny speakers on your phone or iPad can prevent an autistic person from hearing what you are trying to say. Too many sounds at once can lead to a meltdown. My brain is not sorting these things the way non-autistic brains do. I cannot efficiently weed out what you might think of as background noise. Each piece of information is as valid and important as the next.
What would help? Turn it down. While you’re at it, please turn down the lights. Textures, tastes, and smells also need to be dialed back for many of us to function well.
|Squawkers in a calm, quiet place.|
The last time you saw someone having a meltdown, was it in a calm, quiet environment? Did you or anyone think to take the person immediately to such a place (preferably before their tolerance level was exceeded)?
Acceptance is a quiet room (dimly lit) where people talk slowly and make sure everyone has a turn communicate in whatever way works best.
To complete this challenge, pay attention to the environments you live in, work in, move through. In the comments, discuss how you can make these places more autism friendly. Whether you are autistic or non-autistic, share your story about turning down sensory input.