Why Your Autistic Loved One Often Interrupts Conversations
Neurotypical (non-autistic) people, do you ever wonder why the autistic or otherwise neurodivergent person in your life interrupts and talks over you and others?
I used to do this ALL the time (I still do, but it’s not as bad as it used to be).
Here’s why I do/did it:
1) If I don’t say what I’m thinking right that second, I’ll forget it. Poof! Gone.
2) Everything is urgent to me. Everything. I’ve gotten good at masking this fact so as not to overwhelm others, but everything I have to communicate feels very, very urgent, even if it wouldn’t be to 99.9% of the rest of the population.
Think of it like really having to use the bathroom, and you’re dancing around waiting, but the person you’re talking to insists on reading all of “War and Peace” before you can relieve yourself.
That may not be the case, but that’s what it FEELS like.
Here’s what I do as an autistic person:
1) Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills.
For example, I ask myself quickly before I interrupt, “Will anyone die as a result of my not saying this thing and surely forgetting it”? If the answer is “No”, I do try (emphasis on the word try to keep quiet). A bit extreme of a thing to ask oneself, I admit, but it works for my OCD, too.
2) Writing things down to talk about later. (Hugely helpful!)
3) Apologizing. Saying, “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but…” and doing it sparingly.
4) Communicating by email/text.
That’s it! That’s all for today. 😁
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:
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