“Stop Yelling at Me!” – Why You May Hear This From Your Autistic Loved One When You Haven’t Raised Your Voice
Has your autistic loved one ever said “Stop yelling at me!” when you haven’t raised your voice?
I’ve done that many times. “Yelling” to me, for a very long time meant any tone or energy I coming from another that made me feel as though the person speaking was getting even slightly frustrated with me.
They weren’t yelling with their words, but their energy was, and that scared me. It took me a long time to understand how to explain tone of voice or make statements like, “You sound frustrated”, instead of just going rigid with fear.
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The best way to improve communication with your autistic loved one is to understand how your autistic loved one’s mind works! Intentions, motivations, and personal expressions (facial expressions or lack thereof, body language, etc.), are often quite different in autistic people than they are in neurotypical people.
Experience a better understanding of your autistic loved one by reading books about life from an autistic perspective as well as stories that feature autistic characters. You’ll have so many “Ah ha!” moments and start seeing your autistic loved one in a different light (and you’ll have a better understanding of their behaviors, which you may have been misinterpreting up until now).
Books I recommend for a better understanding of your autistic loved one:
So, if your autistic or otherwise neurodivergent loved one is becoming emotional and telling you to stop yelling, think about what you’re feeling in that moment.
Are you really frustrated but trying to control it? Did you have even the most fleeting thought of throwing something or getting otherwise physical in your expression of anger? If so, many autistics, especially traumatized autistics, will pick it up faster than you will and react.
In the moment, it may seem like an overreaction, but this fear is very real.
For me, if I hear even a slightly frustrated tone, my body immediately reacts as though an 800-pound bear has just come barrelling out of the woods hellbent on eating me.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has really helped curb the expression of these reactions and the emotions that go with them, but it still happens; that feeling of absolute panic in my gut.
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