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Autism can mean language differences—not disabilities.

Experts often agree that No matter how many words you use Most communication comes from non-verbal actions like facial expressions, body language, etc. If you’re autistic like me, you’ll be fine. That means you struggle with many aspects of non-verbal communication.

Now, a new study offers insights into why that is. Although many autistic people say the study is reaffirming what they’ve known for years.

The study was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. pointed out that those on the autism spectrum find it difficult to accurately identify angry facial expressions when expressed with the intensity and speed that neurotypicals found to be “normal”


As the lead author of this study explains in a University of Birmingham news release: “We found that people with autism have specific problems recognizing anger. which we began to think might be related to differences in the way autistic and non-autistic people use these expressions. if it’s true It may not be correct to refer to autistic people as being ‘impaired’ or ‘deficient’ in emotional recognition — autistic and non-autistic faces may speak another language to communicate. more than emotion.”

PhD researcher Connor Keating led the research team. Described the issue in an email to Salon, where he addressed the so-called problem. This is the idea that compassion relies heavily on both the ways we instinctively express our emotions. and What we can expect from previous social interactions — experiences that can be very different for people with autism. when that happens There will be a communication breakdown that disrupts both autism and autism. (non-autistic person)

“Two empathy issues were addressed by autism scholar Damian Milton,” Keating explains. Many autistic individuals have supported the dual-compassion idea. by acknowledging that this idea is consistent with my own experience.”

He added that his study was the first. “That shows that difficulty perceiving movement, rather than being still, is that angry expressions are associated with autism, not alexithymia.” Alexithymia is a condition related to autism that affects emotional communication.

It’s fair to say that many people with autism read that statement. Maybe the same reaction I did: sure!

Jen Elcheson, a school aid worker from Prince George BC Canada, told Salon via email: “As a child, I only understood expressive anger and aggression.” that uses unclear body language.”

Elcheson remembers mistakenly thinking other people were funny. in spite of the fact that they showed their cowardice

“My response would have made them more displeased,” Elcheson recalls. “My own confusion, shame and anger followed. I misunderstood again!”

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Even as the adults approached their 40s, Elcheson said it was. “Sometimes struggle” to understand non-verbal and sometimes verbal “I don’t always know what happens to people who aren’t autistic,” Elcheson added. “I tend to understand my autistic friends well. It’s the same for people with the same neurological differences as I have for others. [neurodivergent] can diagnose as well.”

Alex Plank, founder of a popular forum site for people with neurological conditions. Note that he often feels like he’s speaking a different language than neurological syndromes. especially when it comes to emotions.

“I’ve always had people think I’m rude when I’m telling the truth or trying to communicate an urgent matter,” Plank explained in an email. He adds that he often overlooks social traditions, such as remembering to greet someone or avoiding talking about them.

“I have noticed that when talking to other autistic patients, We always talked and it worked. We stop talking if necessary or the other person speaks,” he mused.

In fact, this unexpected anger can surprise those on the spectrum. And it often turns out to be unheard of, Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, a visiting scholar at Rice University, is also on the autism spectrum. said that both she and other autistic people Often experienced communicating with someone who was suddenly very angry.

“I must have been really confused,” Giwa-Onaiwu told the Salon. “I didn’t understand how they got that atmosphere or what happened because I thought we were talking and I didn’t do anything. I guess I should have picked it up from their face? their body language.” This is more than just nonsense or embarrassment, as Giwa-Onaiwu notes. “It puts you in a really dangerous situation,” because neurosis may not respond well to people with autism who don’t deal with their anger properly.

“I think they really don’t understand. that we are not aware of what they are perceived,” she added.

Daniel Sullivan, podcast host and life coach. Autism (who was later diagnosed with autism) expressed hope that the study will help people understand the nature of how people with autism struggle with each other.

“I think the conclusions of this study are absolutely correct,” Sullivan wrote to Salon. “Although emotional intelligence varies in people with autism, Overall, people with autism do not have impaired emotional intelligence. We have different languages ​​and expressions for our emotions that can be as difficult for neurotypical to read in our faces as we read in neurotypical faces.”

for what it’s worth Not all people with autism feel this way. For example, iconic autism and animal rights advocate Temple Grandin told Salon via email, “I can always feel my anger. I use tone of voice as the main indicator of anger.”

by any means If there’s the same topic from all the conversations I’ve had with an autistic person? For this article and many other topics, our nervous system sets us apart. Not worse, as British psychologist and autism expert Tony Attwood once wrote: “I see people with Asperger’s as a bright thread in the tapestry of life.”

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