A lot of people are alright at communicating with me. However, I have come to notice characteristics of exceptional communication partners. A lot of inflection when talking is beyond irritating. An even tone and attitude keeps me regulated. I need stability and someone who is going to show up for me, not just because it is their job, but because I matter to them. A good sense of humor goes a long way. A stupid joke every once in a while isn’t what I mean. A genuine and funny personality is. I need to trust that they know what they’re doing and that they are confident. I have a lot of medical needs that need to be monitored appropriately. An effective communication partner can tell when I am going to have a seizure just by how I type, so they can monitor me more closely. My seizures are fast and an ineffective communication partner may miss them. My best communication partners have never missed one.
Some people assume everyone can be communicated with in the same way, but this isn’t true. Each individual with autism is different, and it is important to understand what our needs are and what we value in a communication partner. An effective communication partner is important for our progress, so help us be successful by understanding our needs for a communication partner. You can tell in the quality of my work who I’ve been communicating with and I believe this is common. It isn’t that I can’t spell with everyone, it’s that I value a relationship based on trust to be willing to. I love all of my communication partners, but some are better at helping me take my work to the next level. I could never have dreamed of starting this blog without an amazing communication partner pushing my limits. Find a communication partner who knows your capabilities and your needs.
Happy Birthday! I love and miss you very much! I hope you had a wonderful day! I am looking forward to seeing you soon and I enjoy reading your blogs!
Love Auntie Tammy!
Thank you Mitchell! I’m going to keep up with your blog! I have a 16 year old non verbal son. I hope he can communicate like you some day!
Hello Mitchell. I just stumbled across your blog. I love your post about communication partners. It’s a great reminder especially about tone of voice. Keep the posts coming.
Thank you for sharing your life with us. As the mother to a 9 year old who is autistic and non-speaking, we are pushing his school to provide him with a dedicated communication partner to assist with his learning since it seems no one at his school currently is capable to do such. Our kiddo has quite the personality and loves to joke around, but when it comes to work, he struggles to find people dedicated enough to help him communicate with his AAC device so that hinders his progress. Do you have any advice or recommendations on specifics we may need to ask or push for?
Thank you for sharing your life with us. As the mother to a 9 year old who is autistic and non-speaking, we are pushing his school to provide him with a dedicated communication partner to assist with his learning, since it seems no one at his school currently, is capable to do such. Our kiddo has quite the personality and loves to joke around, but when it comes to work, he struggles to find people dedicated enough to help him communicate with his AAC device so that hinders his progress. Do you have any advice or recommendations on specifics we may need to ask or push for?
I wish you all the best for your son. Here is a good Facebook group to join for some ideas.
I came across your blog from the article about you in the Chicago Tribune, and I am inspired by your story.
Thank you for your insight. Many of these principles could apply to all kinds of individuals with different communication abilities and styles.
Mitchell, I have enjoyed reading your blog. I’m excited that you expressed the importance of the right partner. A partner is like a key. So many keys don’t turn the lock. Some fit, but won’t turn the lock and then there are those few that do turn the lock. Every thing has to mesh up, every rise and fall on the key has to hit the tumblers inside the lock just right. I think that if you keep after it, you’ll also find a key to help your motor commands unlock your motor controllers.
Just like finding RPM opened the door to communication, there has to be something to start to link your commands and controllers up better . Our brains are so amazing, and can do all the things, it’s just meshing up the command and control functions, and then applying the filters to filter out the extraneous stuff. The extraneous stuff is as big a challenge as anything because it sends our brains down little trails and won’t let us organize or sequence and work the controllers.
I am neurotypical, but I have a glimpse into a few of the challenges you face with a high functioning and overstimulated brain that is just taking in too much data to function efficiently. My brain struggles to filter and organize all of the inputs. My challenges are mostly auditory and visual, overstims usually result in with intense anxiety, tremors, stuttering, horrible tinnitis, and of course the need to shut it all down for a bit.
When I can’t make the words I need to communicate sometimes, I can see the solution or information I am trying to convey in a picture form but I can’t get that to the person I need to communicate with. Drawing doesn’t work. I sort of have a photographic memory so I am working on ways to organize the parts of what I am seeing so that I can filter out the extraneous stuff and put the important things in order and maybe find a way to slow it all down enough to get it communicated in a comprehend-able form. Of course in the picture it is all happening at once, so it’s a little crazy to try to communicate what I am seeing to someone who will never see it.
I’m 56 years old now, and as I am trying to explain, I am still working on solutions for my challenges. I attended college and had a career. I enjoyed my work and accomplishments a great deal. I didn’t enjoy the complications of interpersonal relationships in the workplace. I worked in laboratory research. I worked in pharmaceutical development and in another lab leading a team to develop a new technology for water treatment. I suppose I see too many facets, variables or possibilities to every situation and my coworkers just wanted simple communications from me. But to me, that was wrong, we needed to look at all the possibilities before we could chose the best solution. I also prefer to do my best, and not rush because rushing makes me mess up. I think rushing makes everyone miss out on being their best, but they don’t even know that it is missing. Anyway, working with and communicating with others made it less enjoyable for me to have a career. So now, I am just working on ways to overcome some of the issues I have with communication. Never stop trying to find your way around a problem!! Life just gets better and better then farther you come. Of course there are bad days, days that our brains are too overwhelmed to function and they feel like huge setbacks. Tell yourself those days are reminders of the past so you can appreciate how far your have come. I am excited for you! Warm Wishes, and Keep on Keepin On!!
Mike spelled: Hi Mitchell! I am autistic and I use a letter board. I am happy to see your blog. I am being made to have no education because I use a letter board.
Tammy, Mike’s Mom: Thank you so much for writing your blog. We are so excited to see your thoughts. Reading your words makes us feel not so alone in this journey.
Peace and love to you, your family, and your fantastic communication partners.
Thanks for the comment. It makes me sad to think that using a letterboard is hurting your education. Please stay strong because things will get better.
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You make a very good point in this post: the relationship we have with the people we communicate with is very important. I know some of my support people haven’t worked out, because their style of communication has prevented our developing a relationship, (or a good relationship, depending on the person), which means I’m much less motivated to communicate with them.
I’ve also noticed that the style of communication some of my support people have had hasn’t worked well for me, because they don’t provide the level of prompting I need when my life is difficult, and my communication abilities are negatively impacted. (Not their fault, but it has caused problems). Or they get to know me, and forget that I don’t always have the same abilities verbally, or linguistically at all, and therefore don’t recognize when I need more help communicating. E.g. They have forgotten that sometimes they need to dig more to get the answers they are looking for. Or they need to look around to see if there are obvious things I need help with that I can’t ask for. And sometimes they need to do less of the social communication, so that I don’t get exhausted by that, and then can’t provide the functional communication I need to. (Some of them have gotten annoyed when I can’t or have no interest in social communication, and focus on the functional stuff. Even though they know they aren’t in my life for socialization.)
Anyways, I digress. Mostly I just wanted to say you have pointed out things that people too often overlook when it comes to communicating with those of us on the spectrum. (and factors that affect our abilities to communicate.)