I’ve asked Justin several times since he was diagnosed how we communicate so effectively. People with autism don’t read sarcasm or body language very well, and I am pretty much the definition of both. When we first started dating, I didn’t notice anything unusual about the way he communicated, but I did notice he spoke FAST. I just thought he was nervous!
Justin often tells me that I’m not a “typical” woman because I say what I feel. If I’m mad at him, I tell him. If I’m sad, I tell him. I guess a lot of women don’t speak or tell their significant others what they’re feeling (which is really weird to me–good communication is the key in any relationship). I just don’t hold back because it’s not fair if I’m unhappy and he’s perfectly fine. This behavior, as it turns out, works great for communicating with someone with ASD. I just tell him what is going on, and I’m blunt. If he’s talking too much, I just tell him to shut up. It doesn’t hurt his feelings–in fact, it’s the opposite. He is happy that I tell him because he finds it so hard to try to guess what people are thinking or want to say.
I found a great article from this website about communicating with someone with Autism.
Communicating with Autism
I don’t try to make him guess what I’m thinking. I was like this even before we thought he had autism, just because I never understood why people don’t just say what they think. He doesn’t take offense to anything, so I’ve never been worried what I said would hurt his feelings.
Other people have noticed things about communicating with Justin is how he speaks back to them. He talks fast and he mumbles. He tries not to, but he doesn’t know how to accurately speak about his feelings or what he wants to say (typical Aspie trait). He just has a difficult time getting what he wants to say out into words.
If you are dating someone with ASD, don’t worry about being blunt with them. In fact, I encourage it. If they do something that pisses you off, just tell them. It will frustrate them more if you are holding something back and then tell them later how mad you were (holding back your feelings leads to melt downs–trust me on that one). Try not to use sarcasm or expect them to read underlying messages. They just don’t really understand it. Justin gets my sarcasm–but yeah, we’ve been together for 9 years, so he gets it now.
I hope this helps shed a little light on communication and relationships in those with ASD. Feel free to comment or ask questions of Justin or myself!