Autism Awareness: Nonverbal

How do we communicate? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There’s an old joke where you tell someone that a deaf and dumb man goes into a hardware store. He makes a fist and pounds the counter. The guy in charge brings him a hammer. The man shakes his head and then takes his fist and hits the top with his other fist. He gets brought some nails. He nods in thanks and leaves. Next, a blind man comes in wanting a pair of scissors. How does he ask for them?

At this point, some people do a motion with their fingers to indicate scissors.

The answer is, “No. He uses his voice and asks for it.”

The question might be different if the blind man was on the spectrum.

There are some people on the spectrum that are incredibly non-verbal. They literally never speak. Some exceptions can occur such as if they are alone with animals or they can type if they are on a computer, but generally, they don’t speak.

I am not one of those, but often I would prefer to not speak if that is possible. This isn’t just around strangers. I can do this around my own family as well. Now there are times when actions do speak louder than words, but there are times when they don’t and you need words to communicate.

This can lead to problems for me sometimes. Let’s suppose I am in the checkout line at the grocery store. I want to indicate to the person in front of me to please get a divider so I can start putting up my groceries or at least move their stuff forward to give me room. This can be a problem as they usually have their back turned to me watching what’s going on in front of them.

Somehow, a mental block comes up in front of me that practically renders me unable to speak. It is exceptionally frustrating. I really don’t know how else to explain it. Picture a time in your life when you are paralyzed with fear and might have known you needed to do something mentally and yet you couldn’t will yourself to move. That is a similar situation.

When I get up there to check out, I will normally prefer not speaking. It is not that I desire to be rude at all. It’s just I prefer to not have to speak if I don’t want to. This will also get us into something in another post that I can’t stand on the spectrum, small talk. I’ve already stated that I hate the question “How are you?” which usually starts such conversations.

Do I know a solution to this? No. I am also not justifying it. I am just saying it is what it is. If you meet someone who seems to be unusually quiet, please consider they may be on the spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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