Autism and Asperger’s and Hearing What You are Saying: Tips for Teachers, Bosses, Parents and Spouses

“When you hear a sound, your brain responds.  When the child with autism hears a sound, their brain responds too, but a little bit later.  What we’re seeing is a…split-second delay in recognizing that sound,”  Tim Roberts says.

Ms. Chetry asks, “How does that play out in how children with autism learn and communicate?”

“What happens is that as speech becomes more complicated, we have more and more sounds building up, and these delays cascade on each other leading to a difficulty in perceiving or recognizing the word.”

Can you imagine how long it took me to transcribe the above sentences from the video?  I had to see, hear, understand, translate into a visual of the word in my head, type what I saw, while still hearing more, and more, and more! going in.

I was lost after three to five words each time I tried, so I played the video in a different window so I could just listen and type without seeing the heads moving, but the delay in my mind was just too much, and it all became garbled in my brain.  I didn’t understand the sentence and didn’t “see” the words in my head.  I had no clue what they were saying.  I was so quickly lost.

My typing speed is not the issue.  My preferred form of communication is email, and I write every day, so my typing speed is incredibly fast.  So, I tried another approach based on my experience.

One Source of Input

Only so much input at once, is my rule.  So, say the bare bones of what you have to say, then stop–unless you are communicating with facial expressions, tones of voice, and hand gestures.  Then you will have to state those unvoiced messages because I didn’t receive them.  They are visual distortion of the message.

This is why I tried transcribing without looking at the video to rid myself of the moving heads.  The moving distraction was enough that I lost understanding of the message very quickly.

The Next Try

Playing the video without watching while trying to type didn’t work either.  Without the visual, the delay wasn’t as slow, but I was quickly tripped up and way behind what was hearing.  It all turned into a mess in my head and my agitation increased in a millisecond.  I raced to the mouse to get to the video window so I could click “pause.”  I breathed out.  I had freaked out inside.

But, I have a Great Visual Memory

This time, I watched the video to understand a complete thought and paused the video.  Then I clicked to this window I am typing in and wrote the thought word for word without error.  I waited to let it integrate and to anticipate what they would say next, then I switched back to the video and repeated until the transcription was done.

I “saw” what they were saying.  I literally see the words in my head as they are talking.  The words have time to form into a visual then when I stop the recording, I see the whole sentences.  I worked at my usual fast typing speed because I was literally copying what I saw.

Advice for Teachers, Bosses, Parents, and Spouses

  1. Public speakers use dramatic pauses to let a point “settle in.”  All people need pauses, not just the ASD people, so they can catch up with what is being said and integrate what they have heard.  Do the same for your loved one, pupil or employee with Asperger’s or autism.
  2. One of my children summed it up best when this child said, “Okay, okay.  I get it, now stop talking.  You don’t have to keep explaining!  Stop talking!”  This child’s frustration level escalated rapidly if I didn’t “talk, stop, talk, stop,” so that day it resulted in a door slamming.  I understand the frustration completely, yet I forgot to start with a short summary then stop completely.
  3. If you notice a person on the autism spectrum watching your lips when you are talking, it is a sign that you are talking too quickly and not pausing or not letting any silence hang.  Related article…
  4. If you like to make a lot of facial expressions, body and hand movements, to make your point or “drive home” your point or “communicate what you are saying,”  don’t; it will muddle the message.
  5. It is the easiest for me to understand speech in the morning, so my meetings and phone calls are generally in the morning.  In an afternoon meeting, I often have to get people to repeat points they are saying.  So, afternoons, I usually focus on a task with little environmental distraction.
  6. Teachers, your autistic students may have more trouble writing in the afternoon because they are thinking of “what to say.”  Subjects such as math, graphic design, art, physical education, cooking, reading, or computer programming are relaxing in the afternoon.

Did You Notice how I Wrote This?

Some sentences, which make them more difficult to understand, have thoughts split.  Some sentences run on explaining point after point and linking thoughts thereby diluting the one necessary thought.  Some sentences are concise.  Choose the latter, then stop.  Believe me, it will be much appreciated.

About Eileen Parker 100 Articles
Support a starving writer, by buying my current book, The Weighted Blanket Guide, on Amazon. I'm a writer working on my fourth book. I live in the Twin Cities with my husband. Between us, we have four children.